Why The Motley Fool Isn't Giving You $500

Our April Fools' joke is explained.

Apr 2, 2014 at 4:18PM

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.

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1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

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Articles and beyond

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David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

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But wait, there's more

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