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Mercredi, 14 Septembre 2011 12:00

Mr. Know-It-All: World of Warcraft Chores, Wedding Netiquette, Kindle Singles

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Illustration: Christoph Niemann

I’m paying my tween son to farm gold for me in World of Warcraft. My wife is horrified; I equate it with paying him to mow the lawn. Am I a terrible dad?

When it comes to raising a son, often the best way to set your moral compass is to ask a simple question: What would Michael Bay do? OK, the explosion-happy, plot-averse Transformers director isn’t exactly Dr. Spock, but he does understand something elemental about the psychology of preteen boys—they’re not big on nuance. Your goal, let’s hope, isn’t to indulge yourself with some cheap MMOG child labor but to teach your kid that hard work leads to money. So you need to make the connection between work and pay explicit. That means assigning him chores that can’t be completed while he sits on his duff and sips a Big Gulp.

“I’m a big believer in manual labor,” says Jim Taylor, author of the recent book Your Children Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear From You. To make a kid really understand the value of money, you need to make him sweat—literally—for his cash. If you elect to pay him for roaming around the lower echelons of the Warcraft universe, the intended lesson might be lost. Stocking up on virtual treasure may be boring, but it’s far easier and more pleasurable than cleaning out rain gutters.

While your kid will be better served by pulling weeds, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream of becoming a level-85 Night Elf. There are plenty of Chinese firms willing to fatten any WOW character’s coffers for a fee. Or perhaps you’d like to purchase Mr. Know-It-All’s account: Any interest in an orc shaman named after a Family Ties character? I’m looking to quit the game so I can spend more time with my son.

Four months after my husband and I tied the knot, our wedding website is still up. He says it’s fine to leave it running, but I think that’s tacky. What’s the rule of thumb here?

If you’ve ever stumbled upon a long-abandoned website, you should know that untended digital properties don’t age well. After a few years of neglect, an orphaned site becomes a sad sight indeed—the Internet’s equivalent of an unkempt coffeehouse denizen who can’t stop talking about the life-altering Bread concert he attended in 1977. Don’t let your site become that guy.

But for the sake of your growing dishware collection, do let the site live for a little while. “From a practical standpoint, there may be invitees who didn’t have a chance to send a gift yet,” says Karen Bussen, a New York City wedding planner and the author of Simple Stunning Wedding Etiquette. Since your site presumably has a link to your wedding registry, it can help give those stragglers an easy way to choose a gift. But Bussen recommends that after the six-month mark you archive it and pull the plug.

If your husband resists, make him a deal: The site can stay up as long as he agrees to update it regularly with photos of your marital bliss. Odds are he’ll lose interest long before your first anniversary—probably right after your first dishwasher-related fight.

I recently published a long article in a local magazine, and now my friends are urging me to turn it into a Kindle Single. How do I do that?

By steeling yourself to accept rejection. Anyone capable of using a QWERTY keyboard is free to turn their masterpiece into a Kindle eBook through’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. But the Kindle Singles series is a whole different ball of wax—it’s curated by an editor, David Blum, who determines which stories are tapped for the exclusive Singles club. The lucky selectees get a promotional push from Amazon and thus rarely languish at the bottom of the site’s sales rankings, a netherworld littered with self-published tomes.

Pitching your article to Blum is easy enough: Just send either the completed manuscript or a brief synopsis to kindle-singles@amazon. “The only criteria we use to decide what goes up there is, what do we think is really fresh, well written, and interesting?” says Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle content. Your piece should also be considerably lengthier than typical magazine fare—even the skimpiest Singles exceed 5,000 words.

Amazon won’t reveal what percentage of submissions the company accepts, but it’s surely only a small fraction. If you don’t make the cut, don’t despair: The list of famous writers who endured numerous rejections is almost as long as Gravity’s Rainbow. You and your friends will surely laugh about Amazon’s folly when you win your first Pulitzer.

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