Archive for October 9th, 2012

Man is the only animal which esteems itself rich in proportion to the number and voracity of its parasites.  –  George Bernard Shaw

If you haven’t read yesterday’s column, do so before reading this one or you won’t really understand.  As I explained then, popular bloggers often get email from parasites asking to contribute guest posts; they always look something like this:

Hello Maggie,

re:  http://maggiemcneill.com/2012/01/28/were-not-done-yet/

I write for an online education website that is focused on providing information to current and prospective students looking to take some classes online.

Historically, higher education has been the realm of the bourgeoisie, but this is changing as more people gain access to education through online avenues and free resources. I recently read a piece by NPR that told the story of a girl, Naylea Omayra Villanueva Sanchez, who was wheelchair bound and living in the Amazon, but was still attending college through the free University of the People.

In light of this article, I would love to add to the discussion by contributing a post to your blog. I want to focus on the potential, and potential limitations, of free university education, keeping different fields of study in mind.

Here is a link to a writing sample and my resource, take a look and get a feel for my writing style.

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks in advance.



Though the letter pretends to be from an individual it was clearly sent by a robot; I receive many of these, all of very similar construction except for the topics, and though it pretends to have read my blog the referenced post was clearly chosen via keyword or some such strategy (it’s an update column, not a cohesive essay).  The follow-ups which come a couple of weeks later are all identically worded except for the signature, sending address and subject line:

Hi Maggie,

I wanted to follow up with you and make sure you had received my email I sent a little bit ago regarding my blog post idea.

Let me know your thoughts, I would love to work with you. Do not hesitate to get back to me with any questions!

Best regards,

{insert female name here}

As I explained yesterday, I was inspired by Ken White from Popehat to reply to these after receiving five of them in one afternoon; though I think Ken’s are much funnier, I still believe you’ll find my effort amusing.


Rachel Higgins [rachelhiggins711@gmail.com]; Charlotte Kellogg [charlottekellogg10@gmail.com]; Sarah Wenger [sarahwenger97@gmail.com]; Samantha Porter [samantha.porter99@gmail.com]; Alexa Thompson [thompsonalexa6@gmail.com]; Estelle Shumann [Estelle.Shumann@gmail.com]

RE: A Request to Contribute a Blogpost

Dear Rachel, Charlotte, Sarah, Samantha, Alexa and Estelle,

When I first started receiving emails from you and others like you I patiently explained that I’m perfectly capable of writing my own blog posts; in fact, I’ve managed to produce one a day for over two years now, more than 800 in all.  What’s more, an awful lot of people tell me that my writing is exceptional; now, it’s possible that some of those are just trying to get in my pants, but considering the sheer number of such compliments, I think it’s safe to assume that at least some of them are sincere (especially since I happen to share their opinion).  So as you might expect, I really don’t need any help from complete strangers, especially since there is an extremely high statistical likelihood that said strangers’ writing isn’t remotely of the same level of competence as mine.

But the letters just kept coming, so I started to ignore them and continued to do so until today, when five of you emailed me within three hours of one another; you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that all of your emails were exactly the same except for the subject line and signature!  Clearly, this kind of synchronicity cannot be the product of random chance, and since you all have different names and email addresses and certainly wouldn’t try to deceive anyone about being real individuals, I am forced to conclude that the universe is trying to send me a message.

So I have wonderful news for y’all; I have decided that I will indeed allow your guest posts on my blog!  Of course, there are a few minor conditions that I’m sure you’ll understand and will be happy to accept.  Read them over and get back to me, and if you agree to them we can get started at your earliest convenience!

1) Since I know you must have extensively read my blog before sending your kind offers to help me via guest posting, you’ve noticed that its appearance and characteristics are very uniform, and that also goes for guest posts; I haven’t had very many of those, but you will note that when I did I still picked the titles and illustrations myself, and that I provided commentary on each.  I’m sure that, being modern and egalitarian sorts of ladies, y’all wouldn’t want any special treatment, so obviously it won’t be an issue for me to say that I get to entitle each guest post as I see fit, to illustrate it with whatever pictures I think best, and to insert whatever comments or words of explanation I think necessary before, within and after the body of each of them.

2) I schedule tightly and plan my posts weeks ahead of time; furthermore, I have no desire to bore my readers and therefore consider variety very important.  Just as I only publish one of each special feature per month, so I will only publish one guest post per month; however, I will expect all of the posts and the appropriate payment for each as soon as possible, but no later than October 31st in any case because I’ll need them for a special Halloween ritual I have in mind.

3) About that payment:  it’s against WordPress rules for me to take money in exchange for access to my space, but I’m sure you’ll agree that my time and skills are valuable.  In my last job I charged $300 per hour, and obviously you wouldn’t want me to settle for less than that.  It should take roughly two hours to format, illustrate, publish and index each of your posts; sometimes, though, it takes a while to find a really fitting epigram, and on top of that I have to moderate any comments made on the post (which might trickle in for weeks afterward).  So really, I think 3 hours would be a conservative estimate; therefore I’ll ask $900 per guest post, paid in advance via Paypal or Green Dot Card.  This money is only for time and effort, and no other offer is implied nor should it be inferred.

4) One more thing:  I’m sure you’ll understand that my safety is important, so I’ll need to screen each of you; please provide your full legal names, addresses, telephone numbers and places of employment so I can make sure you are who you say you are.  Don’t worry, I’ll be very discreet; you won’t even know I checked.

Well, that’s about it; let me know your thoughts, because I would love to work with you.  Do not hesitate to get back to me with any questions!

Maggie McNeill
The Honest Courtesan

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