Imagine you’re a struggling writer and someone introduces you to an opportunity for a paid writing gig. Except the pay is in some currency you’ve never heard of: say, Peerity, or STEEM, or Viberate, or something called Mavin tokens.
It’s unclear how many writers are desperate enough to accept payment in a brand new cryptocurrency, but based on public job listings and blog posts, the tactic of trying to get articles written about a new cryptocurrency or just in exchange for one appears to be widespread.
This weekend, an editor at The Outline got an email from Oleg Cheine, the CEO of CannaSOS, a “comprehensive social network and sophisticated advertising platform designed primarily for the cannabis industry,” offering to pay for articles in a proprietary cryptocurrency called PerksCoin or PCT. “For each original article posted on our News feed I will provide you with 500 PCT (nominal price $0.80/token),” Cheine wrote. “Each article needs to be at least 700 words and obviously needs to be interesting/engaging to our readers. For every article you write, you will send me a link via email and I will allocate the PCT to your account.”
The offer went even further: “If you choose to not do this and want to just write a unique article about us with doFollow backlinks on your blog and/or on a news site, I will pay you 2000-5000PCT (amount depends on the website traffic).” Cheine did not respond to questions.
“For each original article posted on our News feed I will provide you with 500 PCT (nominal price $0.80/token).”
There are a few problems with offers like these. First, it’s a fancy way of asking writers to work for free. Most of these cryptocurrencies will be worthless. Second, it’s a way of artificially propping up a new currency by seeding the network with manufactured activity. And finally, these offers can cross the line into being a bribe.
The explosion of ICOs, new currencies, and new tokens has created a landscape ripe for ordinary investors to easily lose money (see our piece from last week about the boom in “penny cryptos”). It doesn’t help that regulations around cryptocurrencies have yet to be strictly defined. The Federal Trade Commission requires bloggers to disclose when they are being compensated for articles, but it’s unclear if that standard extends to made-up internet money.
All of this is of course being encouraged by the ostensible success of Bitcoin, which is hovering around $18,000 per unit as of this writing. (The lesser-known alternatives to Bitcoin are called “altcoins” or sometimes, disparagingly, “shitcoins.”) There may be writers, programmers, and other workers who are eager to trade labor for a stake in PerksCoin or whatever they believe could be the next cryptocurrency-powered economy to take off. The Outline editor, however, declined.