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October 28, 2015 6:18 AM   Subscribe

We’d like to publish a story you wrote! - Cool! What do you pay? Oh, we can’t afford to pay, but EXPOSURE! - How about no. Wil Wheaton being propositioned by big media.
posted by klausman (72 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
I saw this on Twitter yesterday.

Do they think Wil needs exposure help from HuffPo? Someone was huffing something....
posted by sio42 at 6:29 AM on October 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Bless his boots, but the fact HuffPo doesn't want to pay contributors is nothing new. It's still super shitty and he is right that people should be compensated for their time and product, but Arianna didn't make those millions by giving us any money for our content.
posted by Kitteh at 6:30 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Exposure? You mean what homeless people die from?"
posted by Etrigan at 6:34 AM on October 28, 2015 [75 favorites]


Fighting the good fight there, Wil. Keep it up!
posted by oheso at 6:42 AM on October 28, 2015


A couple years ago I got an email from Reason Magazine. They saw a picture I had on flickr of a very rare video game, Death Race, and they wanted to use it for an article on banned video games. I didn't really have an idea of what Reason Magazine was, I knew it was some libertarian magazine, but not much more beyond that. I guess maybe I was caught off guard or just flattered that someone wanted to publish my crappy photo, so I said "sure, just credit me and send me a copy of the magazine." As soon as I responded something just didn't feel right.

A couple months later I got the magazine in the mail. Among all the ads for survivalist supplies I found the photo, with the credit just a URL of the Flickr search page for my name.

I regret giving them permission to use the photo at all, but I really wish I had asked them to pay me. Even if they'd have given me a token $10.00 I would have felt better. It was a crappy photo taken inside an arcade, nothing I spent any effort at all on, but it was mine and I took it and they wanted to use it for (what I assume is) a for-profit magazine.

I guess I got some exposure. A bunch of libertarian preppers have seen my crappy photo.

As Mr. Wheaton says, it's one thing if you seek them out and ask to be published, but if they're coming to you it's because what you have has some value to them.

I like and respect Wil Wheaton. I sometimes think he comes off as a bit too angry, but he seems like a genuinely good guy who is decent to people. I'm glad he overcame the shit he dealt with as a child actor.
posted by bondcliff at 6:47 AM on October 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


NO SPEC WORK!

Sorry, I guess this isn't exactly spec work in this case, more like HuffPo trying to pull an Oprah.
posted by Catblack at 6:57 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is the 21st century version of "hey, you're losing money on every unit you sell, but you'll make it up in volume".
posted by klarck at 6:58 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


As Mr. Wheaton says, it's one thing if you seek them out and ask to be published, but if they're coming to you it's because what you have has some value to them.

Even if you do seek them out and ask to be published. In the olden days that was called a query. "Hey, I've written this article/story/book, do you want to publish it?"

They publish based on what makes sense for their goals. Whether they see you first or you see them first is irrelevant. If they choose to publish it, they should pay for it.
posted by headnsouth at 7:00 AM on October 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Now and forever - fuck you, pay me.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:04 AM on October 28, 2015 [34 favorites]


Between this and his recent appearance on Harmontown (where he shined by being the most grounded person with a mic in a really weird episode), I'm starting to like this guy.
posted by lownote at 7:10 AM on October 28, 2015


the 7 things i did to reboot my life is really good.
posted by nadawi at 7:10 AM on October 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Well, yes, it is.

Which is why he deserves to get paid for it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:20 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who blogs for them as well and I had no idea that they were all unpaid. That's the sales job of the century to convince people to generate quality content for free while the multi-million dollar media group collects money from the ads.
posted by dr_dank at 7:31 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


i totally agree he should monetize that piece however he wants - i just wanted to draw extra attention to it specifically because it's such a good piece of writing about taking stock in your life and making the changes. i especially liked this part :

This thing that I’m doing? This series of choices I make every day? It isn’t working. I don’t like the way I feel, I don’t like the way I look, I don’t like the things I’m doing. Things need to change.

i know i often get in a repeating pattern where i feel like i've just ended up in a place i don't like and it's good to be reminded that we're all making choices every day to be the people we are and we can change those choices.
posted by nadawi at 7:36 AM on October 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have a friend who blogs for them

IIRC, this is now the fate of Rick from Doonesbury. Trudeau did a fine job of chronicling the downfall of print media/journalism through Rick (and his son, heh) a decade ago.
posted by Melismata at 7:40 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have a friend who blogs for them as well and I had no idea that they were all unpaid. That's the sales job of the century to convince people to generate quality content for free while the multi-million dollar media group collects money from the ads.

It's not just them - it's the business model across the Web, pretty much. Here, let me give you another example - Valve plans on getting configurations for games for their new Steam Controller from the community - that is, they're expecting Steam users to do the heavy lifting of making their new controller work with the vast number of games out there. And they are not planning on paying for it.

Welcome to the age of digital sharecropping.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:41 AM on October 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


This isn't new -- it's just gotten more prevalent. Media outlets like magazines and newspapers have been screwing over freelance writers and photographers since before the digital age.
posted by zarq at 7:52 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the (many) things I like about Wil Wheaton is his knack for being straightforward and kind at the same time.

And yeah - the line about exposure makes me see bugs. The "exposure" you get from HuffPo comes with a big side of "AND I WORK FOR FREE" attached to it. Who needs that shit?
posted by Mooski at 7:56 AM on October 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


This isn't new -- it's just gotten more prevalent. Media outlets like magazines and newspapers have been screwing over freelance writers and photographers since before the digital age.

It's not just that it's become more prevalent - it's also become more acceptable.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:58 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ugh, the anecdote that kicks off 7 things bugs me:
portable spa... the heater stopped working...repairman...
“Did you try pushing the reset button?” He asked.
That's the high temperature trip, set around 108 deg. F. to keep you from cooking if the normal thermostat malfunctions. It should never fire. If it does, you need to check that the thermostat is working correctly or you'll continue to have nuisance trips.
posted by morganw at 8:04 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


...and how many of you get paid for the content you produce for Metafilter?

(Me, neither.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:08 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


A few years ago I got an email from an arts writer for a local newsweekly. She couldn't complete her column and wanted to know if I would be willing to write it for her. They couldn't pay me, but perhaps the exposure would be helpful.

I wrote her back to ask her if she knew who I was. I was the former editor-in-chief of this newsweekly, and still had a weekly column in it, as I have now for 12 years, and get paid for. I never heard back from her.

I emailed the editor to see what was going on. He didn't seem sure. As far as I can make out, she probably just couldn't complete her commitment, grasped around for local writers to do it for her, intended to keep her check, and was going to repay the writer in exposure, all without clearing it with anyone.

And I thought, well, there we are. It's become so commonplace that even writers are falling back on it to take advantage of other writers, without thinking they need to clear it with anyone.
posted by maxsparber at 8:11 AM on October 28, 2015 [13 favorites]


...and how many of you get paid for the content you produce for Metafilter?

I also don't get paid to have coffee with my friends.
posted by maxsparber at 8:12 AM on October 28, 2015 [36 favorites]


Valve plans on getting configurations for games for their new Steam Controller from the community - that is, they're expecting Steam users to do the heavy lifting of making their new controller work with the vast number of games out there.

From what I can gather from basic Googling, people are excited about the ability to share controller configs with each other, and I don't see any place where it is discussed that Valve games do not operate with the controller out-of-the-box.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:12 AM on October 28, 2015


What makes this complicated is that there are LOTS of "content creators" who would love for give away their content for free to Huffpo for some inlinks or exposure. These people don't write for a living but they have something to sell and don't have the money for traditional marketing so they write blog posts, guest blog posts, white papers, etc, etc.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:13 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


fuck you, pay me.

I came here for this, and I am only slightly disappointed that it took almost 40 minutes for it to show up. But of all the thises that ever thissed?

THIS.
posted by eriko at 8:13 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


IIRC, this is now the fate of Rick from Doonesbury. Trudeau did a fine job of chronicling the downfall of print media/journalism through Rick (and his son, heh) a decade ago.

Much longer than that. And the simultaneous rise of Roland Burton Hedley, Jr., from credulous freelance idiot to well-paint TV bubblehead is a stark contrast to Rick, who is a real journalist, and so has no place in the media landscape.
posted by Gelatin at 8:14 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


even writers are falling back on it to take advantage of other writers

Nothing new in art, I guess. I remember reading a biography of a famous tap dancer (Sandman Sims?) who talked about how they stole steps from one another all the time.
posted by Melismata at 8:15 AM on October 28, 2015


Valve plans on getting configurations for games for their new Steam Controller from the community - that is, they're expecting Steam users to do the heavy lifting of making their new controller work with the vast number of games out there.

The controllers already work, out of the box, as well as a standard controller does -- they "work with the vast majority of games out there" just the same as an XBox or PS controller works. But they're giving people the option, as already exists for keyboard/mouse users on a PC, of importing other peoples' configurations for specific games automatically rather than having to go through and manually rebind every button one-by-one.
posted by cjelli at 8:18 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Twenty years ago I applied for a job as a writer at Miami Magazine. As part of the interview process I had to write an article about dog grooming so they could assess my writing.

I wrote the article, but did not get the job. "Oh well," I thought, "you win some you lose some."

Then the next issue of the magazine comes out, and they are running my article! I called them and told them that it was unethical to print my article without letting me know or compensating me, and that perhaps if my article was good enough to run, I was good enough to hire. The managing editor said, "Keep it for your scrapbook. Show it to all your friends!"

Hey look, Metafilter friends. I got published in Miami Magazine in 1997!
posted by staggering termagant at 8:23 AM on October 28, 2015 [35 favorites]


The controllers already work, out of the box, as well as a standard controller does -- they "work with the vast majority of games out there" just the same as an XBox or PS controller works. But they're giving people the option, as already exists for keyboard/mouse users on a PC, of importing other peoples' configurations for specific games automatically rather than having to go through and manually rebind every button one-by-one.

Which is going to be necessary for the controller to be successful (as it is being marketed as a KBAM replacement for the living room.) They're also going to keep a repository of those configurations, to make them easily accessible, which will be filled by Steam users.

And none of that will be compensated.

And I don't care if people are eager to share their configurations - one of the best tools for someone to exploit others is to get their marks eager to assist in that exploitation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:27 AM on October 28, 2015


On the flip side, "do it for exposure" was just fine for one of my better-known projects, a map of US rivers. Two and a half years later that map still gets used and re-used and it brings me great pleasure to see it show up somewhere new.

I published the main picture with a CC-SA license. A bunch of online sites immediately picked up on it being freely licensed and republished it, mostly with appropriate attribution. It ended up as a feature in the Daily Mail online which was sort of badly done but sure got a lot of attention. Readers Digest published it in print, something my grandmother would have been very proud of. To this day I get requests for special versions for people's commercial projects: a book here, a t-shirt there. I do them for free if it's not much work for me and I like the project.

I'm certainly not saying people should work for free. I'm in an unusual situation in not needing to get paid for doing this kind of work. Also I'm a bit of a dilettante and this project is odd, I don't feel like it'd be appropriate to charge for it. It's not like I'm undermining the vast market for pretty river maps by doing it for free. Frankly I'm motivated by ego, it makes me feel good to see my work being distributed. If I were doing this kind of thing professionally I'd feel differently.
posted by Nelson at 8:28 AM on October 28, 2015


i've been running third party software to change my configurations on my xbox controller for years. i'd honestly prefer if this was something microsoft offered and i didn't have to go pay another company money to get these configurations. it's not required software for my controller to work, and lots of people don't use it, but i find it very useful. seems like the same is going to be the case for valve. if they didn't create the space for this to happen, it would happen elsewhere where people would still be contributing to it for free while another company took the software licensing fee.

this seems pretty far afield from a conversation about huffpo's (non)payment model.
posted by nadawi at 8:36 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


For the record, the mods pay me a penny per word, which doesn't sound like much, but adds up! Especially if I keep coming back into threads to "clarify" (read:belabor) points. I also get paid 2 cents per words written in deleted comments, since those tend to "drive engagement" further.

Overall, is it keeping the quality of mefi comments high to pay by the word, or does it just encourage a lot of drivel? There are two minds about that; in one way, it's simply encouraging a lot of drivel, which people really don't want to read. No one is sitting at their computer hoping to slog through an insanely long comment just to get to the end and realize it could have been summarized in about one eighth of the space. But on the other hand, it fills the site, and as we all know, advertisers will pay a lot more for a page that's twice as long as another page that's only half as long, or less. The money they pay - used for purchasing things and buying/selling within an economic system - is good for the site. Good for users, too, as it keeps us on-brand and engaged.

If you think carefully about whether the site's business model makes sense, you'll find something surprising: most sites ONLY exist to drive user engagement, with a mixture of business strategies. The angles we take, and the approaches and vectors, make it MORE reasonable (not less) to expand these kinds of comments from a sentence or two, to several paragraphs. And of course, there's always the economic factor: money doesn't just grow on trees. It takes a lot of content to make that money happen. Is what I'm saying making sense? If you know economics, then yes, it's going to make a lot of sense. It's not only good for the site, it's good for disrupting the business practices (known as "dinosaurs" in the biz!) that keep us from maximizing our potential.

Overall, we can see that linear growth DEPENDS on comments that are both engaging and interesting. So for a payment to take place, users must feel like they are engaged, and not like comments are simply becoming longer for the sake of length, drifting perilously close to meaning before faking out and tumbling over the edge of a cliff (into an ocean which, in this metaphor, is devoid of meaning). Repetition alone won't do for this kind of user engagement; today's commenter is far too savvy to be fooled by tricks like these, played by fools. What we need is a collection of comments that people can be impressed by the length of, half-read enough to sort of get the general gist, and then nod (and then favorite, which of course creates the incentives for bonuses later on down the road).

But isn't this likely to lead to abuse? Not really, and here's why: brand engagement and user experience are the two TOP PRIORITIES of the metafilter corporation. When we want to bandy numbers about, it's important to be able to point to the pie chart that says each comment was, on average, at least twice the length of the comment next to it. And that's not even getting into the comments above or below them! Try doing that on reddit or yahoo! You can't, and that's because mefi is committed to the quality experience of a user's trust.

So how does all this play out on the macro level? Just look at the numbers! Year over year, and month over month, we've seen steady growth when it comes to branding, customer loyalty, and that all-important Web 4.0 "pizazz" we call user embranglement. UE (as we call it in the "back room") is one of the MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS mefi has to offer, especially in such a crowded media landscape. Is it the way we make our numbers go up? It's part of it, but a much bigger part is simple care. Pure, human, and gentle. The kind of care that a mother has for the baby birds, if the mother is also a bird.

All in all, mefi might not be perfect... but with commenters like you and me, it's getting there!

Greg Nog has written for the Huffington Post, Yahoo Answers, and The New York Time Out Post. He divides his time between Brooklyn and LA, where he hosts a weekly podcast about disruption of dinosaurs
posted by Greg Nog at 8:37 AM on October 28, 2015 [56 favorites]


(I should note that the picture was published with a Share-Alike requirement. That's a viral license, and in theory means that every article, book, etc that's used my picture is required to also be licensed under Share-Alike. In practice I don't really know what enforcing that means, and am unlikely to bother. But requiring SA was my little way of making that picture Free, not just free.)
posted by Nelson at 8:37 AM on October 28, 2015


Also I'm a bit of a dilettante and this project is odd, I don't feel like it'd be appropriate to charge for it.

Why? You put labor into it, why shouldn't you ask for compensation? I find this argument baffling.

It's not like I'm undermining the vast market for pretty river maps by doing it for free. Frankly I'm motivated by ego, it makes me feel good to see my work being distributed. If I were doing this kind of thing professionally I'd feel differently.

The problem is that you're encouraging the expectation of free labor, which is a growing problem not just in content, but in all sorts of other fields as well. Which is why it's becoming more acceptable to ask for free labor in more and more arenas as of late.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:39 AM on October 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Which is going to be necessary for the controller to be successful. They're also going to keep a repository of those configurations, to make them easily accessible, which will be filled by Steam users. And none of that will be compensated.

Valve is, in generally, unusually good at compensating people for games-related labor -- monetizing hats in Team Fortress 2, skins in CS:GO. They made an attempt recently at letting people sell mods (well: sell mods more easily than is currently possible) but relented after considerable user backlash. In the whole panoply of 'user generated games content,' they're batting well above average, and that's gotten them a lot of good will.

Being able to download other people's configurations is fantastic, and it's something I'm looking forward to, but I don't think it's strictly necessary for its success -- rather, it's ease of reprogramming is important to its success, and Valve is leveraging its existing content distribution system to provide sharing on top of that. It's not going to be a make-or-break feature for most buyers; it's a value-add.

It does certainly add value to Valve, and there are definitely issues of fairness there, but I think it's a bad example overall since there is not now, nor has there even been, a substantial market for controller bindings. There is an existing market for writing, and for photography, and so on. Asking people to do normally paid labor for free is problem. Enabling people to share already not-paid labor with others isn't the same thing.
posted by cjelli at 8:40 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I operate a moderately-well-known long-form non-fiction website, and a couple years back I was contacted by BusinessInsider.com asking if they could syndicate my content. I asked about compensation, and they said they'd credit me by name and include a link to the original, but they couldn't offer monetary compensation. I declined.

That being said, when I first launched aforeunmentioned website a decade ago, I invited some other authors to join me, and I was unable to offer compensation because the site operated at a loss. I suppose this is slightly hypocritical, the difference being that I had a detailed plan to generate income (not advertising), with a promise to begin paying once profitable. It finally worked after years of effort, and I began paying the authors as soon as I was able, both for new writings and for residuals on old writings. Everybody seems pretty happy with the setup. Nobody is making a fortune, but the pay isn't terrible for doing something we enjoy.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 8:43 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


it's interesting to me that wil first put this on his own site (which i assume he monetizes in some way) and then put it up on medium. the issue for him wasn't getting a third party to pay for it or not, it was that huffpo sought him out for that piece and then offered him exposure for it. he decided to share it in a not getting paid way (medium) while insisting that if someone is coming for you for your work, you deserve to be paid. it's a fairly nuanced position that's anchored in the choices of the creator. i continue to be impressed by how he works shit out and shows us his process.
posted by nadawi at 8:43 AM on October 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wait, wait. Are you guys getting paid for these comments?
posted by Naberius at 8:51 AM on October 28, 2015


Are you guys getting paid for these comments?

For comments? Geeze, no. For posts? $20, same as in the Town-Gazette.
posted by cjelli at 8:53 AM on October 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Some of us are getting paid while we lurk.
posted by Molesome at 8:53 AM on October 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wait, wait. Are you guys getting paid for these comments?

There is no Platinum Membership™.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:54 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


They made an attempt recently at letting people sell mods (well: sell mods more easily than is currently possible) but relented after considerable user backlash.

That whole fiasco illustrates the whole issue in a nutshell. Because the "considerable user backlash" is better described as entitled whining, as it pretty much came down to "why should we pay for stuff that we've been getting for free?" Which illustrates how corrosive the expectation of free labor is - once you get that expectation ingrained, it becomes really hard to get out. It also illustrates the problem with your "well, there's no market for this, so it's different" argument.

Also, I'm not saying that configurations should be sold, but that a system of giving compensation for configurations, possibly built on rating and popularity, would not be remiss.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:57 AM on October 28, 2015


To paraphrase Beyonce: If you liked it then you should have put a check on it.
posted by jscalzi at 8:58 AM on October 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


On the topic of compensation, jscalzi now owes reparations for dropping that ear worm bomb.
posted by dr_dank at 9:08 AM on October 28, 2015


The problem is that you're encouraging the expectation of free labor

Well in the software engineering world I work in, "free labor" is common in the guise of open source / free software. There's a whole lot written about the economics of free software, I won't try to summarize, but bottom line I have been very well compensated for my programming expertis, mostly writing proprietary code as a full time employee. But doing some free software projects has been part of making my career successful.

My river map is really a free software project too, a tutorial I created both to learn how to do vector maps myself and to teach others how to do them. There's no way I'd ever expect to be paid for that code. So when I created one work print image off the code I didn't think anything of it, the only reason it had a CC-SA license on it at all is that Flickr encourages you to put some sort of license on everything you publish. It was only when commercial publications like the Daily Mail picked it up that I realized the image was going to be way more popular than the code, and that making the image free was a big part of why it got picked up.

Again I'm really not arguing everyone should work for free. Particularly not spec work. OTOH, giving away some work is an integral part of my industry and my personal experience.

(The particularly odious thing about Wheaton's story is that it's the Huffington Post, a Verizon company. The Web already has a way to "give exposure" to folks like Wheaton. It's called a fucking hyperlink, ya nubs. But Huffington Post is an ad mill and I think Wheaton very much did the right thing refusing to let them plaster their shitty ads on his essay.)
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on October 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Are you guys getting paid for these comments?

Wait, are you not getting your checks -- ? You need to go into your profile and enter your address and social security number. You'll also need to fill out a W-9 form for your taxes.
posted by webmutant at 9:35 AM on October 28, 2015


MetaFilter: It's called a fucking hyperlink, ya nubs.
posted by webmutant at 9:36 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is tough for me. I have a full time job that is rewarding but I occasionally contribute free reviews to contemporary "small magazines" which are literary or arts websites. I do it for the pleasure and for the collection of "cuttings" that I hope may lead someone to offer me money for my work. Leaving aside the predatory policies of large organizations like HuffPo, do any historians on the site no whether during the golden age of "little magazines" contributors were paid?
posted by Charles_Swan at 9:40 AM on October 28, 2015


Are you guys getting paid for these comments?

Yes, exactly what was promised and what I asked: a very fair sum of $0.00.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:44 AM on October 28, 2015


Are you guys getting paid for these comments?

Well, every so often some kind person flips a favorite into my hat. I gather them at the end of the day and present them to my id, which gobbles them down and then looks at me as though I could have brought more if I'd tried a little harder.
posted by Mooski at 9:48 AM on October 28, 2015 [18 favorites]


I dunno about anyone else on Metafilter, but I pay them.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:02 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


the mods pay me a penny per word

I get paid in ice-cold plums.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:20 AM on October 28, 2015 [14 favorites]


This Is Just To Pay
posted by cortex at 10:51 AM on October 28, 2015 [20 favorites]


i guess at least wil was asked, unlike matthew inman of the oatmeal.
posted by nadawi at 10:52 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Are you guys getting paid for these comments?
Well, after taxes, insurance, union dues (Intl. Assn. of Bloggers), fees to the cabal and bandwidth fees, the .01 per word income became .005 outgo, which was why I retired the wendell account and went with a Brand New Day one-time $5 outlay account. Then I keep the copyright and charge the NSA for republication. Not the best system, but, hey, it's the Internet.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:53 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


This Is Just To Pay

So gold.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:55 AM on October 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can't help but anything that Wil writes in the voice of Richard Dreyfuss
posted by ian1977 at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I work as a creative - writing about a specific niche topic is part of what I do. And I get a fair share of infuriating "work for exposure" emails wanting to grab my content and make money from it. It's part of the industry nowadays and I have a standard letter with my rates etc. I rarely ever hear back from the suckers.

But there are so many people who think their content is not worth anything, who happily hand it over because they don't need the money, and who just create content for others for a self-esteem boost ("omg, I'm on Buzzfeed!"). I salute you all. You make my life richer .. as far as imaginative content-grabbing emails from people-who-refuse-to-pay are concerned, anyways. I do wish you felt more confident about asking for remuneration.
posted by kariebookish at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


For comments? Geeze, no. For posts? $20, same as in the Town-Gazette.

WOO!
posted by zarq at 11:37 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, this jogged a memory loose.

A long while ago I'd made my first 3d model for a game (the first battlebot from star wars I for jedi knight II, jedi outcast). You know, replacement model for muliplayer, fully voiced, AI script, skins, the whole shebang. I had loads of fun making it, learning 3dsmax and of course I put it online for free (still is, afaik, on a number of sites). 50-100.000 downloads, all in all, quite quickly!

So at one point a french gaming magazine emails, wants to put it on the cover disc (oh, man, remember magazines with floppies and cd's?!). So I say: 'sure! just send me a copy of the magazine!'.

Never got that magazine :-(

Oh, and for those who haven't seen it? Fuck you, pay me!
posted by MacD at 11:43 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"But there are so many people who think their content is not worth anything, who happily hand it over because they don't need the money, and who just create content for others for a self-esteem boost"

Or also, it's just a hell of a lot of work trying to find someone who is willing to pay you, and sometimes (if it's not your livelihood and you don't have the time/energy/financial brains to make it so) you'll just be all "oh, fuck it, whatever, at least it got read." Because they may not be willing to pay you and they can find someone else for free anyway.

I periodically try to think of ways to monetize what I do and in the end just give up out of mental exhaustion. I don't enjoy the selling process worth a damn and I didn't make enough to be worth my time and depressing feelings about not selling.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:24 PM on October 28, 2015


I have no problem with mods-for-sale. Some of my favorite games, most of my favorite games, could be described as professional mods: CS:GO, TF2, Fallout NV, TIE Fighter, anything that wasn't released on a brand-new engine could be considered by the pedantic as just a "mod." Non-professional, non-free mods are out there too, and some of them are popular and successful (Garry's Mod comes to mind). Some paid mods add whole new experiences, some add new content, some add both. And I'm happy to pay for these, because they are a product of creativity and skill and the ludological method.

But some mods simply fix problems that are shipped with the host game. From a simple attribute flag to a balancing of the game system (Fallout NV's "Ratslayer Fix" and "jsawyer.esp" for examples), they address gameplay problems that shouldn't be there in the first place.

I am more than willing to pay for the first category of mods ("jsawyer.esp" could definitely be included there), but I am not willing to pay, or at least not idealogically comfortable with paying, for a fix of something that shouldn't be an issue in the first place.

But there seems to be a growing trend in gaming, at least among PC gamers, that flaws in a game are less-problematic or less-detrimental if the flaw can be remediated through third-party modding. I think this is an incredibly awful viewpoint: Flawed games should be regarded as such and third-party, almost-universally amateur modders, should not have to fix things that developers won't pay to officially fix. But if you think of it in an environment where paid mods are the norm, it's even worse. Why would a developer even think of putting out a patch for a low-priority fix (I.e. Ratslayer) if modders are not only doing the work for free, but the developers are making more money by doing less work.

Sorry this was a little rambly and off-topic, but the "don't worry, you can just download a mod!" gaming worldview really fucking annoys me.
posted by clorox at 12:20 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Contently just did a piece about whether it was ethical for publications to ask for spec work. The writer's conclusion was yes, it was fine for newbies, though that still leaves me uneasy.

Also I really wish people stopped thinking Medium was a publication. It's (as Autostraddle called it one time) "Wordpress for venture capitalists" - just a nicely formatted CMS that doesn't quite allow advertising. There's no editorial oversight or whatever - you register, write something, post, done.

Speaking of Autostraddle: a chart comparing their capital, even after 6.5 years of operation, compared to other media companies that earned most of their capital more recently.
posted by divabat at 2:07 AM on October 29, 2015


But if you think of it in an environment where paid mods are the norm, it's even worse. Why would a developer even think of putting out a patch for a low-priority fix (I.e. Ratslayer) if modders are not only doing the work for free, but the developers are making more money by doing less work.

You're right, and that was definitely part of the reason for the reaction to the Valve paid Skyrim mods debacle. Some of the other reasons:
- the modders' share of revenue was insultingly low (something like 25%)
- nobody seemed to have thought about what would happen when paid mods inevitably got broken by game updates
- nobody supervised what went up on the shop, so it was full of crap and scams
- it was also full of plagiarism, which brought into focus the fact that Bethesda claimed ownership over anything developed using their modding tools (leaving the original authors of plagiarised stuff with no effective recourse)
- Valve handled the debacle in a hilariously inept way, although they did eventually apologise.

There may have been a bit of "entitled whining", but not much. Maybe Valve will get it right the next time they try.

The biggest problem, though, was the way the whole thing was dumped on a community which had built itself on purely voluntary collaboration for years - and software benefits from that kind of sharing infinitely more than the kind of writing HuffPo asked Wheaton to do for nothing. There's really no comparison.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:26 AM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


that is, they're expecting Steam users to do the heavy lifting of making their new controller work with the vast number of games out there. And they are not planning on paying for it.

So, I have a minor hand disability: I destroyed a finger's joint earlier this year and it's permanently painful to use. Even then, this has made playing WASD shooters hard, and I can't really 'do' shooters with an XBOX Controller (because I hate shooting with controllers and I can't do some top-mounted buttons anymore).

The Steam controller layout sharing isn't just a mechanism for "outsourcing work," it is also a method for gamers with disabilities to share layouts so that gamers with similar disabilities can use it. This is the #1 reason I'm excited for this layout-sharing mechanism: the ability to create, download, and share layouts which help me play FPSes again. And unlike posting the rebindings to GameFAQs or the Steam Forums (the previous best-practices, alongside the defunct AbleGamers forum), this makes it that much easier to use for gamers with disabilities to actually re-map the controller.

I'd just argue you are being entirely too cynical about this, and it's not really at all like HuffPo. It's more like the modding community.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:17 AM on October 29, 2015


Then why not have a system where top configurations receive compensation? And it doesn't have to be a massive sum, but if you create a binding that gets downloaded 10k times, getting some form of compensation for that, even if it's just credit on the store, isn't exactly unreasonable in my book.

And yes, I'm pretty damn cynical about this sort of shit, because we keep on seeing over and over all sorts of systems being built that serve to hoover up slack in society and funnel the benefit to the top.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:00 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also I really wish people stopped thinking Medium was a publication. It's (as Autostraddle called it one time) "Wordpress for venture capitalists" - just a nicely formatted CMS that doesn't quite allow advertising. There's no editorial oversight or whatever - you register, write something, post, done.

That's both true and not true. Several sections of Medium, such as Backchannel, have an actual editor-in-chief (Steven Levy, in this case) and pay journalists for their work. I did a piece for Backchannel last year and got a decent paycheck that arrived soon after the piece was published. Miraculous, really.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:03 AM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, Medium does have some paid channels (I keep forgetting to mention this whenever I rant about "zomg Medium doesn't pay!!!" given that I've actually applied to write for those channels, come on divabat) but it's not 100% of the business. And hey, in the areas where it is their business - they pay!
posted by divabat at 9:45 AM on October 29, 2015


Every year I get roped into writing a few things as continuing education materials, generally as part of a speaking engagement. These are typically not paid gigs. The entire upside is exposure. As soon as I'm done exposing myself, I feel robbed.

I feel I need to do them for credentialing, but they don't translate well into money later. They typically are not artistic in nature, so there is no cathartic release, and they need research and analysis to look professional. I literally swap hours I could have been using for paid work for this crap.

This is just to say that it isn't just new media, social media, blogging, etc. It's an endemic stupidity suffered by many, including professionals, working in traditional channels.
posted by Muddler at 10:54 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Conference speaker: "Writers should work on spec."

Lyme Drop: "So should conference speakers."
posted by Lyme Drop at 1:12 PM on October 29, 2015


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