The countdown is on

The submission period for round 32 is drawing to a close. Naturally I’m a few thousand words short of what I’d like to submit, but I will enjoy a good solid month of payouts for the round once it starts paying out in about 19 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes. Not that I’m in a hurry, mind you, because the payout for round 31 has been a good one for me. Only 19 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes left to enjoy it. I guess I better keep writing.

Keeping track of upcoming Devtome round payouts has gone a long way since I first began publishing content during the round 24 submission period. I wrote as much as I could and had no idea what to expect. Actually, I published material I’d already written because I wasn’t 100% sure the opportunity was for real.

By the time I hit round 25 I learned about a couple files which could help me keep track of both the total number of shares and the number allocated to me. This allowed me to keep a running tab on my earnings and if I also tracked the Bitcoin/Devcoin exchange rate, I could also get a rough idea of how much I’d earn in Bitcoin equivalent on any given day. The file with share allocations consisted of several lists of Devtome writers and admins and how many shares they earned in various categories–writing, marketing, admin and a few more. To get a total share count for myself, I’d have to add up my share count in the various lists. Needless to say this method of keeping track grew unwieldy. Not only that, there were always major changes made when the actual pay script was run, rendering any information in those files obsolete. But at least I could keep a running total of my word count, which is the most variable component as well as usually my biggest earning category.

When rounds 26 and 27 came along I had developed confidence that the Devtome payment system worked exactly as advertised and that I would get paid what I earned regardless of whether or not I kept track. I also ran into some writers who complained about having missed an entire round because they were either procrastinating or trying to hold out for a better Devcoin/Bitcoin exchange rate and the end of the round took them by surprise. It became abundantly clear to me that the most important determinant of writer pay was writer contribution, and so the most important place I could expend energy was in the actual writing. If I wrote I’d get paid; if I didn’t write, I’d have a very poor round, being paid only for my paltry contributions in the other categories. That was round 30, where I wrote a grand total of five shares worth of content and have resolved to never let that happen again.

I probably went nearly three rounds without ever checking my share totals or even the grand totals. At one point I noted a discrepancy between my actual word count and what the share count was telling me. When I brought it up with Unthinkingbit, he ran his own script on my invoice and told me what the actual word count was, which matched what I had come up with. At the end of the round, what determined my pay was not the running totals in the files, but the totals obtained by Unthinkingbit’s pay script. So after that I figured the files weren’t accurate and I didn’t worry about them anymore. I never figured out why they weren’t accurate either.

In the past few weeks I’ve had a few new writers I’d signed up ask me why their names weren’t showing up in the files, and I’d reply with a condensed version of the above information, and encourage them to just write and not worry about it. I have since learned that there is more of a process for final approval of new writers for payment than there was when I started out. The new writers weren’t seeing themselves on the payment list because they hadn’t yet been fully approved to be there. So in that case it had nothing to do with the files, just that the writer hadn’t yet been fully vetted.

Additionally, several modifications to the way writers are paid have been added since I began. In the beginning, writers earned one share for every thousand words published. It didn’t matter what the topic or quality was; if you published a thousand words, you earned a share. As you can imagine, this led to various problems which have been addressed at different times, the result being that the amount of pay a writer earns is determined not just by the word count, but by other factors such as writing quality (as determined by peer ratings), page views and advertising revenue, and whether or not the writer bothers to categorize his or her articles. Each factor is assigned some mathematical multiplier and the writer earnings are determined based on word count plus all multipliers.

Just this morning I learned exactly where these new writers were searching for their names to learn their running share count. It’s not a file but a web page which compiles all the relevant information about rounds and shares. It’s called the Devcoin Countdown Clock and it has all the information I used to have to look in several places to find. It keeps a running tab of the total number of shares in the ongoing submission round, a timer on approximately when the submission period ends. It also keeps a countdown timer on how much time is left in the current round of payments. I can also look up my own username and find out my own running share total from writing, admin and all other activities I get paid for.

I can also locate my stats, which shows me how all my multipliers are impacting my final writing share count. I checked my stats out and learned that besides the fact that my writing gets no page views (I do not actively promote my work), what is hurting my earnings the most is the fact that out of a total of 138 published articles, only 41 of them have been categorized. In the beginning I neither knew nor cared how to categorize. Then I had a brief stint as a Devtome category admin where I learned how to do it. Ever since then I’ve been categorizing my articles, but haven’t yet gone back and categorized the earlier ones.

I’m torn as I write this between doing an epic categorizing marathon in time for the round 32 submission deadline or simply spending the next round working through the backlog a little at a time. I could, for example, categorize and file an older article each time I publish a new article. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes, but it was eye opening to see in my stats that my non-categorized articles are actually hurting my earnings, and all it would take to boost my earnings would be to take the time to categorize them.

Regardless of what I choose to do with the information, I’m really impressed with the Devcoin Countdown Clock. It’s so nice to finally have a single web page where all the information affecting my Devtome earnings is right at my fingertips. It’s easy to understand and very accessible.

Only seven hours and fifty minutes left to submit new content for round 32. The countdown is on.

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