Take physic, pomp

Seeking Alpha offers ten bucks for IKN posts

I gave up contributing to Seeking Alpha many moons ago, basically because if this whole blogging thing was going to work or fail I much prefer that it works or fails for me alone. At the time I thought that if it turns out to be a waste of time, the people at Seeking Alpha lose nothing for my failure but on the other hand, if it turns out that my random brainspewings get popular, all the content shipped out to them would benefit them far more than me. You dilute yourself, you lower the bluesky potential.
There was also the thing about how Seeking Alpha didn’t pay for third party content. For one thing, I come from a place that says “if it’s good enough to sell it’s good enough to pay for” and seeing my articles on SA with their adverts stuck next to them stuck in my craw after a while. For another, writing “for exposure” is all well and good and the bigger audience may lead to something, but as the old journalistic saying goes “you can die of exposure”. If I want to write for free on my own little humble corner of cyberspace, well that’s my decision. But if somebody else likes my work and wants to use it in their space, thanks for the compliment but what’s in it for me? (yes i know you think i’m a raving commie at times, but scratch the surface and find a capitalist).
So with that preamble out the way, here we are in early 2011, IKN is tootling along quite happily and I’ve been interested in the blogosphere chatter this week about Seeking Alpha’s new initiative to pay contributors. Basically, on the plus side you can hand over an article to SA and if it’s published under their new exclusivity terms they’ll pay you $10 per every 1000 pageviews. However, it also means that you can’t reproduce your own material on your own blog, or anywhere else for that matter. And it means you hand over exclusive rights to SA and they can sell on your material and keep any proceeds for themselves. The issue has been looked at in great detail with good comments sections over at Felix Salmon’s blog here and here, also other places like Barry Ritholtz (here) and to get up to full speed on the whys and wherefores of it all, including smart comments from SA contributors, those links are highly recommended.
So anyway, there I was looking on at this debate, not thinking about how it would affect me, when I get this mail from Seeking Alpha. For some weird reason they seem to remember me:

Dear Otto,
I hope this e-mail finds you well. We contacted you in March 2009 about the possibility of contributing to Seeking Alpha. You politely declined saying that you would like to be compensated for your articles. You’ll be happy to hear that we are now paying contributors for their articles. Far above the industry standard, we pay $10 per thousand pageviews for exclusive articles that are selected for publication by our Editorial team. You can read more about the Premium Partnership Program here and the program FAQs here. Please note our standards for publication here for the best way to get an article accepted.

Seeking Alpha has over 4 million unique monthly visitors and combined with Seeking Alpha’s distribution partners, articles that you submit to Seeking Alpha can have a total reach of over 50 million unique monthly readers. We have over 4,000 contributing authors.

We hope that you will reconsider our offer to join Seeking Alpha’s team of contributors.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have further questions.

Best, Michal

Ms. Michal Slawny
Contributor Relations Manager
Seeking Alpha
mslawny AT seekingalpha.com

And I was all, “Oh whoopydoo, I get to write an article, send it to Seeking Alpha, hope that their editorial team accept it, if they do I have to accept their editorial changes to my writings, get it published on their site, I can’t publish it here at any time before or after submission unless it gets rejected by SA and if it all works wonderfully and I get, let’s say, 10,000 view over there, they then send me $100, which is about what I’ll need to pay for a commission on one trade. And they think that’s a good deal?”. I was also kind of perplexed on his her line about how I “politely declined”, because I recall being rather snotty with them. So i wrote this back:

Dear Michael,

A question: As far as I understand on reading your new system, if I post an article on my own site and then submit it to Seeking Alpha it wouldn’t get any sort of compensation. Is that correct?


To which Michal replied:

That’s correct Otto. However, you may post a 250-word excerpt on your site and then link to the entire article on Seeking Alpha. You could receive compensation in that scenario.

We can also monitor your blog if you’d like to post articles without compensation.



So I then sent

Michal (spelling correct this time, apologies),

Please tell me that you see the weak point in what you’re offering here. I write an article and if I want to make it part of the $10-per-1000-views Seeking Alpha program I have to submit it to you, I can’t publish myself on my own blog and if you decide to run my piece I only have the right to publish a small excerpt of my own work on my own blog, most probably after the editorial decision to publish and run it on Seeking Alpha has been made. It reminds me of the smallprint on a Radiohead album I own: “
All lyrics reproduced with kind permission of the record company, even though we wrote them.”

I appreciate that you guys are actually willing to stump up some cash for your contributors or (in my case) potential contributors, but the conditions that your trying to impose aren’t very impressive so far. Do you have a better offer?

That was yesterday. He She hasn’t gotten round to replying yet, which I think is wise on his  her part as he’s  she’s probably swamped with the same kind of exchanges and fed up to the back teeth with them. As it happens, even the best posts on IKN may be worth much less than ten bucks, but in my own little Walter Mitty world I like to think they’re worth a lot more. Seriously, ten bucks for 1000 pageviews under a strict exclusivity clause isn’t going to attract decent writers to your shop, SA. Au contraire mes braves, you’re going to deter the exact type of contributor you need to make SA the kind of website you want to make it. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys and what you’re offering, especially under a rules system that says I wouldn’t be able to post my own content on my own site, is peanuts.

Rant over. I’ll now go back to watching my own stocks drop while other people’s stocks go up. Have a nice day.

PS: As pointed out by kind reader ‘HA’ who sent me the above link, the comments policy statement on Ritholtz’s blog is excellent. Here it is reproduced:

“Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.”

UPDATE: There are many things that I don’t know. One of them was that Michal is a girl’s name, not a boy’s name. I learn and thanks for the corrections.

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