Recently inspired by the XKCD comic ‘Packages’, a friend and I started on a journey to see what other kind of daily suprise we could generate with some quick perl and a budget of a dollar per day!

As fans of bad english, and the affectionate “Let’s Engrish” school featured in Doug Coupland’s jPod - we decided the only solution was to automatically comission $1 short stories from online job assignment services. A budget of $1 would ensure that only the lowest quality of work from people who hopefully wouldn’t spend too long on the piece.

To establish whether or not the quality of work would meet our exacting requirements - we decided to do a trial manually on the popular oDesk website. Which is where the fun begins.

In total, we had thirty odd applicants. Most of these were native english speakers living in North America with a degree. And they were all bidding for my $1 job. I was truly dissapointed. It seemed that only affluent white americans wanted to take my dollar, and that they would turn out stories of the highest quality. Yeah, right.

After a number of days in confusion, I hit paydirt. Not one or two, but a whole five people whose name I can’t even pronounce from god-knows-where applied for my position, along with a CV that reeked of Engrish paydirt. Ironically, these applicants had much higher English aptitude scores than that of the other applicants, yet clearly cannot conjugate their verbs.

After a bit of a spending spree, I had hired three writers to write my short stories - hoping they would be able to cater to my exacting requirements:

Write an original short story on any topic of your choosing. The following conditions apply:

  • Story must be in English only, however english does not have to be your native language.
  • 500 - 2000 word count minimum
  • Will only accept bids of US$1

Three days of anticipation later, I received my first short story “Goodbye little boy”. Firing up my trusty word processor I readied myself for a good laugh at what I was hoping to be a light hearted story written in terrible English. Imagine my suprise when I read a depressing story about a boy with cancer - which despite the terrible english, didn’t make me feel any better.

Reading through this story however, something was bugging me - between the engrish was a number of phrases that indicated western ideologies that didn’t really fit in with the author’s background at all. With renewed curiosity, I began googling key phrases and discovered that he had plagiarised the story! Imagine my shock when I learnt that someone on the internet had chosen to simply re-type a story instead of writing their own, on my dollar (literally!).

I took the opportunity to notify the author of his error, reminded him of the conditions of the job and gave him an opportunity to submit an alternate story he had written himself. About eight minutes later, I received my new story. Would you believe - HE DID IT AGAIN!

To put this long story to rest, I am still waiting on works from my other writers - and the two plagiarised works have cost me a sum of US 15c. Whilst you can find good engrish cheaply on the internet, getting original content isn’t so easy!