Entrepreneurs. Engineers. Bloggers. You keep asking: Why does a writer like me hate people like you? Nick Denton's new traffic-based pay scale has backfired wonderfully, giving me a few minutes to explain it.
Entrepreneurs You guys think money is everything. That is, you think money is some sort of universal currency into which anything can be converted, and which can be converted to anything else.
- Good writing is one of the things you can't buy with just cash. Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has proven that again and again.
- Even when you guys mean to be helpful, you get it all wrong. (A) You encourage me to demand more money from my editors. The only thing they'll pay extra for is being famous, because that sells more copies without buyers having to read the article first. (B) You offer to let me "pick up a few extra bucks" by writing your kids' college entrance essays.
- Here's an idea: Pay me to mention your company and/or product in one of my articles. Not that I would, but I'm sure someone else will. The astounding thing is in 11 years I've been offered money for everything but a covert endorsement. You guys have a blind spot there.
Engineers It's hard to be smarter than everyone else, isn't it? You tech people never ask anything about my job. Instead, you explain it to me.
- You just know that my life as a professional writer must be exactly like your life as a professional software developer or sysadmin. Salespeople must come by my desk and demand I change my articles so they can close a big deal, right?
- You're 100% certain that if you wrote the article instead of me, it would have been better. Lucky for you, your fellow engineers are like string theorists: They'll praise this assertion for its elegance and daring, instead of asking you to prove it with a real-world test.
- You'll explain to me that my ideas for articles start from press releases, and must be reviewed prior to publication by the companies I write about. If I recommend your competition, it must mean they bought an ad. You got this worldview from your company's PR lady. You have a crush on her.
- Do me a favor: 34 percent of the Internet is comments from engineers that begin, "It is unsurprising to me that ..." Look, we get it. Nothing surprises you. So it's unsurprising to us that it's unsurprising to you. So shut up already.
Bloggers There is, in fact, a special circle of hell reserved for you. You're keeping it real! Real long, and real dull.
- The only other fields where people spend all their time bragging about themselves and insulting their rivals are talk radio and gangster rap. There's your level of intellectual discourse.
- Jack Kerouac? He had an editor. Allen Ginsberg? Spent months rewriting "Howl." Andrew Sullivan? Face time with the world's best editors, and he still puts me to sleep when he writes solo.
- Free advice: Every time you type the words "not so much," or "the internets," or "Techmeme," reach for that key that says DELETE and press it a few times fast. You're a better writer already!
(Did you notice? I don't hate PR people. Sure, I filter all messages with "for immediate release" or "embargo." But you guys are OK. It helps that you pick up the tab — not the free drinks, but the principle of the thing.)
Nick Denton's new pay scale — more to the point, the reactions to it — prompted me to write all this down. The thing that ties entrepreneurs, engineers and bloggers together is they all think they know everything. If you can suffer through 150 know-it-all posts, you'll find that no one got it right, on two counts.
- I hardly know who Nick Denton is. He emails us all "please log out of nexis" once a week, and has posted one comment to my work: "This post breaks the first rule of internet argument." Since there's only one rule of Internet argument and it's "Don't be boring," I ignore him. I'm logged out of Nexis already.
- Denton's new pay scale works like this: Instead of autobilling him twelve bucks a post, I'm now paid a flat fee in exchange for a minimum number of posts. There's some traffic bonus, but whatever. The important thing is that my extra posts don't cost Denton anything. So I can now post anything I want without feeling guilty. Here you go.