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Why The Motley Fool Isn't Giving You $500

The Motley Fool would love to give you $500. But it's not going to do so, unfortunately.

Alas, our announcement that we were giving away 1 FoolCoin™ -- our newfangled digital currency -- to anyone who claimed to be trustworthy was part of our annual April Fools' joke. We hope you enjoyed it.

Obviously, we were having a bit (ugh) of fun with the hype surrounding bitcoin – the virtual currency that has the ability to disappear faster than you can say Winklevoss twins.

Despite the recent bad news relating to bitcoin, we're actually reasonably open-minded about it as an idea. It's only when folks start thinking of bitcoin as an investment that we start getting concerned.

Quartz recently noted that bitcoin has been one of the worst places to put your money this year, having declined in value by 38.3%. And that negative decline is only, of course, for the bitcoin that didn't evaporate into thin air on the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange.

So our overall takeaway this year is simple: Don't speculate in cryptocurrencies (especially, if you're like us and can't define the term 'cryptocurrency'). For now, they do not represent a safe store of value, and are unlikely to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams. In general, if a financial scheme appears to be extremely complicated and unsafe, it probably is. And if someone is offering to give you free money, there's probably something awry there as well.

Totally trustworthy
Quite a few of our readers appeared to think our offer of free FoolCoin was legit. As part of the "authentication" process -- "tell us whether you're trustworthy" -- most respondents declared they were "totally trustworthy" and predicted the new currency would rise around 10% or so by the end of the first day of trading.

(Incidentally, this authentication process is basically the same shallow level of due diligence that the SEC will require crowdfunding websites to perform.)

Except for one or two self-described "completely dishonest" people, pretty much everyone who responded deemed themselves "mostly" or "completely trustworthy."

Readers predicted a wide variety of first-day FoolCoin™ gains, from 0.5% to 3% to $5,300,000 to "eleventy jillion dollars."

Here are a collection of our favorite responses:

Some folks didn't get it

"As a trustworthy reader, I would appreciate a Fool Coin & would like the Hedge Fund Savant Beta™"

 "Just finished the podcast and went online to check it out. Took me a full 5min to figure out your little prank. Well played."

"...And I realized I fell for it about 30 seconds after I hit send."

"I hate you. But I hate myself even more for falling for this joke."

Some readers sort of got it

"1. I am mostly trustworthy. 2. It is difficult to predict currency fluctuations, especially without knowing the total number of them in circulation. However I do think that modest gains are a reasonable expectation. I hope this isn't some april fools prank."

"I would like some Fool Coin, please. I am completely untrustworthy."

Some folks got it

"While I am optimistic that FoolCoin may recover value in the long term, I think the value will remain between $0 and $25 in the near term while issues are worked through with the authorities. Hope to hear back soon!"

"1) Completely trustworthy, who would say anything else? 2) Before I can properly project the day"s ending value of Foolcoin, I need to know if there is chocolate in the center."

"1. I eat trust for breakfast 2. Eleventy jillion dollars"

"Send me my own foolcoin please u can trust me no one ever lies on the Internet"

"Is Foolcoin compatible with Zippytrade 2000? I.E, can I fund my Zippytrade account with Foolcoin?"

"[From someone in Tagg's line of work] 1. Totally maybe sometimes trustworthy 2. 38 cents"

"In Fools We Trust"

"hahahaahahahahahaahha, but seriously, take a look a kona red."

"Try not to eat too much chocolate."

 Some of you really enjoyed it (thank you)

"rocked it! Great April first post! Can't get more timely than that!"

"This is the best April Fool joke I've seen in a long time..."

"This one is fantastic. Thanks for making my morning!"

Which Mandelbrot twin did you like better?

"The brother with the crazy hair! It's the great hair!"

 "I like the one on the left. He reminds me of [the actual mathematician] Benoit [Mandelbrot] from 25 years ago."

"I am trustworthy. I believe FoolCoin will hit $1492.00 by the end of the day. My favorite Mandelbrot (Twin) brother is Tagg because he dresses like he's from the 70's and he is easier to understand (I Think). Keep up the good work and thanks for the cert."

"Without a doubt, it would be Taggart Mandelbrot -- two reasons, Taggart is my mother's maiden name and his eloquence in delivering the TED talk."

"I just love the clarity with which Stadler Mandelbrot explains things. There can't be any 6 syllable words that he leaves out of every sentence. Fool on. Happy fools day."

"It's just so difficult to choose a favorite between those two iconic, charismatic twins. I'd have to go with the one who so tastefully lets his chest hair rage out of his shirt."

Some readers put considerable thought into the nature and meaning of 'trust'

"I am mostly trustworthy. Sometimes I mess up."

"I am MOSTLY trustworthy. After 75 years on this planet I don't think anyone is TOTALLY trustworthy, or conversely completely UNTRUSTWORTHY."

"Mostly trustworthy, as it is human to be fallible at the least expected or opportune times."

"I am trustworthy to a fault. It's what makes me such a cynical bastard."

"1. 'Totally untrustworthy' What am I basing this on?" 2. 600, What am I basing this on?"

" "Mostly trustworthy." I would like to say 'totally' but that would be more than foolish. There are too many forces at play in the human mind to claim 'totally'. We believe something that is not totally true, our brain chemistry is off, misinformation, degradation impelling us to assert our worth as a person, mind-numbing flood of consumerism, etc. The heart wills it, but the system within and without pulls, pulls, pulls. So I will settle with 'mostly trustworthy' and hope for the best."

"...luckily my abbess doesn't know about the FoolCoins or she would put me on bread and water for being so stupid....bit of exaggeration there, but still... She absolutely refused to let me subscribe to the flagship letter. So I am already being classed as a 'fool', but I'm sticking with you even if I have to go it alone without letters and such. Love the site. God bless you. Sister ______"

"Ancient proverb says 'When the calendar turns to the 4th month, the pull of the moon attracts fools to great heights.'"

Closing with a reader's poem -- until next time

Trustworthy or untrustworthy, that is the question—

Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? To research, to invest—

More; and by a investing, to say we end

The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks

That Flesh is heir to? 

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

quick gains himself might a nave make

With small reward? Who would those that bear,

To grunt and sweat under an unwavering nerve of time,

But that the dread of something wrong in time

Embraced with faith endurance brings.

For only the Trustworthy stand

Trustworthy is the path I follow as a Fool.


Read/Post Comments (16) | Recommend This Article (31)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 6:11 PM, nicegirl10 wrote:

    I love the annual Motley Fool April Fool's joke. When I read the term "Foolcoin" the jig was definitely up!

    As usual very pertinent, very clever, very happening, great investing lesson, and very hilarious. Bravo Motley Fool.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 7:44 PM, pwzeus16 wrote:

    I was like wtf....u got me good man

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 7:48 PM, FooLawson wrote:

    I was fairly disappointed you guys didn't make it accessible to send in the application for a Foolcoin Miner... My application was very thorough and was actually the only joke I was able to pull during the day. Well, maybe next time.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 8:07 PM, fullmoonchaser wrote:

    I really like the shine of Fool's gold...

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 8:36 PM, ChristmasFool wrote:

    My first Motley April First. Made my day! So clever and undeniably fun!

    Proud to join you on the Journey,

    ~ Ginger Christmas

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 9:00 PM, assured1 wrote:

    So when do I get my Coin

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 9:18 PM, essnerific wrote:

    i wanted one to put by my computer, to help me keep a level head when needed. i still want one.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 10:09 PM, foinatorol wrote:

    I will always have the "certificate", which I downloaded. Didn't bother actually applying to redeem it. Why "cash in" something of such everlasting value. My gesture of trustworthy Foolishness.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 11:06 PM, KKoleto wrote:

    I look forward to this every year. You guys have outdone yourselves.


    Fool on!


  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 11:25 PM, anindakumars wrote:

    You almost got me (for 30 secs) before my foolish hat and simple logic came on that free money is no money! :) Great joke and the best commenter award goes to -

    "Ancient proverb says 'When the calendar turns to the 4th month, the pull of the moon attracts fools to great heights.'" - really liked it.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 12:33 AM, TerryHogan wrote:

    I actually liked the Halifax stock exchange video better. I couldn't believe how you kept straight faces with EMeringue. I love the "I did some research, and it turns out Africa and Asia are pretty big. Looking at it from a price to potential acreage standpoint..." Brilliant! Honestly, it took you a bunch of takes right cause you kept laughing?

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 3:00 AM, mikecart1 wrote:

    I fell for the joke a few years ago when Motley Fool said they were going to set an IPO date for the company. The article/joke had all the info in place and it looked legit. I think it even had an email line that you could type to receive the prospectus or something.

  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 3:31 AM, amazarico wrote:

    Actually it was a very good joke, I was not aware that the 1st of April was the fool day in US, in my country the fool day is in December.

    I was thinking about it and it was not feasable at all, in many many ways.

    But, regarding the Fool opinion about Bitcoin in this article, I have to say that they should try to understand the technology better, the blockchain technology which all the new cryptocurrencies are based now. This is a NEW invention, actually it is the greatest invention since the Internet.

    Bitcoin is just one of the currencies, but it has some advantatges respect the others: First Mover, Rule Breaker and already being adopted in many places (businesses, Bitcoin ATM's, etc...).

    Those qualities seems to be similar to many "stocks" that David Gardner recommended. Of course Bitcoin is not a stock, but as the adoption of it gets bigger and bigger, the price of the currency will grow.

    This would be my point of view, as a telecom engineer, hope the Fools take it more seriously...


  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 6:13 AM, clairchen wrote:

    I didn't even open the original mail from Motley Fool, not because I was expecting a prank, but because I thought it was just another offer announcing a new newsletter or premium service available at a significant discount ($500) to new subscribers. I love the Motley Fool, but I don't like the hype that comes with every new announcement. You don't need that and it's not in style.


  • Report this Comment On April 03, 2014, at 11:06 AM, Haggy wrote:

    I made one post to a board about this and the irony is that somebody took it seriously. More ironic than that is the fact that the person pointed out that it was April 1st.

    At this point, I already have my virtual coin certificate. You can't tell me that it's not worth the paper it's printed on because I didn't print it.

    Now I have to question money in general. The nation used to have gold coins. Then we had paper certificates that represented deposits of gold coins. Then we were told that the paper certificates ARE money, even though they can be printed whenever the government feels like it.

    Then a few decades ago, it happened. I stopped getting paid. We had already gone from money to pieces of paper that anybody could write that told a bank to give somebody money. But even that went away. My company stopped paying me. Instead, they gave me a piece of paper saying that the bank got the money electronically. And I stopped spending money. I simply swiped a card, and was told that it was coming out of my account. Gone are the days when they ran a charge slip through a machine to take an imprint. Gone are the days when you got a carbon copy, and another copy came back in the mail with a credit card bill. Now it's all just numbers.

    But the paper went away too. There are no more paychecks and no more pay stubs. They are virtual images on a screen. And there are no more bank or brokerage statements. Those are also virtual images that I could supposedly print by myself, but going into a bank with a printed statement doesn't mean that anybody would give me money.

    So money is pretty much gone. Now it's a matter of seeing numbers in one place and watching numbers rise or fall at my bank or brokerage. I'm supposed to take it on faith that there's money somewhere, but I don't buy it. It's all a scam, except for my Foolcoin certificate. I think that Foolcoins are as real as anything else, but people have yet to realize it.

    If anybody realized the truth, that we are all just dealing with numbers on screens and there's nothing behind it, then we'd all be in trouble. But as long as when I buy something and somebody shows the merchant bigger numbers on his screen than he had before, I can get away with this charade. At least Foolcoins are backed by genuine on line pictures of coins.

  • Report this Comment On April 22, 2014, at 10:08 AM, Questionable2 wrote:

    The US Dollar is based on the productivity of the US economy at least in theory. Bitcoins are based on just digital math of some sort. Bitcoins are therefore based only on the faith of the people who use them. I don't believe they will ever take over as there is no logical way to expand or contract them based on some economic measure or economic function. Bitcoins are based purely on faith which means their value completely goes up and down with how much faith the people have in them. Now stocks go up and down too but their movements are based on the perception of the companies underlying economic production/or lack of production in the short and long term. There is something real underlying the stock price even if the company is about to go bankrupt and sell off its remaining assets. Bitcoins are based on faith with no real production or asset even theoretically involved.

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