Full story here: http://www.oneredpaperclip.com Verification picture of me (Kyle MacDonald) here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kylemacdonald/5261473251/ Verify Driver's license here: (I'm the guy at the top) http://is.gd/iLA8j This is my next project:(currently VERY alpha) http://extremeproductplacement.com.com

Comments: 1070 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

plarpco581 karma

I followed your blog and the story back in the day. I'm too lazy to go research what you're up to now. So...

  • Do you still live in the house?
  • Didn't you write a book or something? How'd that work out?
  • Do you still stay in touch with any of your trading partners?

EDIT: I think he originally missed my questions and then basically answered them at other points in the thread. Or else he has a personal vendetta against me. Maybe it was because I beat him at tether-ball back in the third grade and he's still mad about it.

kylemacmac12 karma

kylemacmac9 karma

VERIFY: Here's my driver's license...along with my pal Steven's...and my dad's: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kylemacdonald/5262096609/

Count_Bruno228 karma

Don't you think you could have gotten a better deal for a blue paper clip? I mean, red's nice and all, but those blue fuckers are awesome.

kylemacmac388 karma

Yeah, probably. I got a pen shaped like a fish for the red paperclip. The blue paperclip would have at least got a pen shaped like a bear. AT LEAST.

BlackLeatherRain62 karma

Nothing pops like a red paperclip. A red paperclip says, "Look at me! You can't avoid it!" It signifies a great amount of importance and authority. Blue says, "Hey. How you doin'?"

atrocityscape74 karma

My 6th grade social studies teacher used a red paperclip to separate failing tests from all the others so she could hand them out last and shame us. I hated her until she got cancer.

oneelectricsheep143 karma

Is that your superpower?

kylemacmac25 karma

My super power is electrifying sheep

ESJ95 karma

Would you be willing to trade the house for...this many?

kylemacmac88 karma

How many is that? Too blurry to tell.

tarheelsam109 karma

Looks like about 14, to hazard a guess. Think about it... that's like 14 houses for 1! Talk about a deal.

kylemacmac198 karma

sure, fax them over to my pager.

[deleted]92 karma

Do you ever miss your paperclip?

kylemacmac116 karma

Best thing I ever did was trade that thing away.

[deleted]17 karma

Any other achievement you would like to be known for or instead of the paperclip trade?

kylemacmac50 karma

One day I hope to discover the identity of these five men and shake each of their hands: http://whoaretheseguys.com

RuskiesInTheWarRoom60 karma

definitely want verification.

Love this story. Was there any object you traded that you really were fond of and would have kept, if you couldn't have traded it up? Any objects that you felt were made better strictly because of their connection to your trade that were interesting?

First time you really felt like this insane project might actually work? first time you felt like a complete fucking fool?

Edit: Okay. So, I have long ago decided I completely believe this guy is the red paperclip guy. Actually, his first response to my question was enough, but he continues to provide awesome and hilarious proof. Don't worry about more, kyle- we cool. You're in the clear!

kylemacmac118 karma

Yeah, how do I verify? I'm noob-ish, as in I've never done an IAmA post before. You can just call me: 514-833-3980

Other than the afternoon with Alice Cooper, everything else I was pretty happy to flip in the chain up to the house. It'd be awesome to spend every afternoon with Alice Cooper. Amazing guy. I guess this 'object' was an amazing trade connection as well.

First time I felt this insane project might work: when BoingBoing posted on it. It was a hack plan up til then. They verified that it had some legitimacy. Still insane, yes, but when a few million folks found out about it, I kinda felt like I'd be a total schmuck if I didn't pull it off.

The first time I felt like a complete fucking fool was when I attached this picture to my Chinese Visa application: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kylemacdonald/65532823/in/set-1413895/

moltersd605 karma

take your number down, homie

Reddit-Hivemind194 karma


kylemacmac76 karma

The internet came all over my cell phone. Anyone got some kleenex?

peteyH23 karma

Unless he's pulling the ultimate telephonic troll move, in which case he should take someone else's number down.

kylemacmac57 karma

Yeah, that's me. Call me if you feel like it. Gonna be eating dinner soon, so please don't interrupt.

utterpedant159 karma

Gonna be eating dinner soon, so please don't interrupt.

For an internet folk hero, you're not too savvy about the internet.

owenstumor69 karma

I called the number...

All I can say is, he's never gonna give us up...

kylemacmac23 karma

this guy totally never called the number!

kylemacmac5 karma

email's easier for me though: oneredpaperclip/gmail - If you really don't think this is me, I'll reply to your email as well.

kylemacmac140 karma

Oh, and if you're going to call the number above: yes, it's actually me. Calling numbers and hanging up right away because you're surprised that the person actually answers the phone = lame!

kylemacmac334 karma

That said, me getting cell phone audio-rickroll'd just now was pretty awesome.

[deleted]48 karma

Seriously, redditor for 4 years and you're putting your number on here?

RommelTJ22 karma


kylemacmac30 karma

I actually called this Montreal 514-867-5309 guy once! He wanted to sell me the number. $1000. No dice.

balchynz213 karma

Related, I called 439-0116 in LBC from the sublime song.

Got this really lovely hispanic lady. This was just after 911 and I didnt know anyone in the states so tried that number to pass on my condolances and let a random stranger know that someone else in the world was thinking about htem.

She cried. a lot.

I kept in touch with her for a couple of years after that, was kinda cool

kylemacmac19 karma

I left my wallet in El Segundo once.

dkramer736 karma

How many weeds were smoked before that photo?

kylemacmac11 karma

Not enough, clearly!

Goupidan4 karma

Damn, I can't believe the guy that traded a red paperclip for a house is from Montreal.

kylemacmac4 karma

I'm a bit of a Montreal immigrant. I'm from Belcarra, just outside of Vancouver, but I've been chillin' in the 514 since 2004. Love it here!

ron_leflore51 karma

What about the tax implications?

Although these were all trades, in reality you ended up with a house for a paper clip. That is income. Did you get taxed on it?

kylemacmac77 karma

I guess so. I pretty much never thought about it. And in the end, after a couple of years I donate the house back to the town, so whatever I earned in value was deducted as a donation.

kiwibonga139 karma

Did someone do your taxes for you, or did you just admit to felony tax evasion over the internet?

kylemacmac91 karma

Yeah, I'm all legit. I've got an incorporated company called One Red Paperclip Inc., and I also work for a company called Legitimate Business Enterprises that fixes up houses. For real. British Columbia corporations. Look 'em up.

balchynz143 karma

I also work for a company called Legitimate Business Enterprises that fixes up houses

That seems legit.

meschmie30 karma

Too legit?

jopsy_daisy22 karma


dlink24 karma

I just can't touch that.

kylemacmac38 karma


P-Dub55 karma

IRS: modern day buzzkillington.

eat4fun21 karma

Canada Revenue Agency: modern day buzzkillington.

FTFY. (The house was in Alberta... Or Saskatchewan... They're all the same anyway.)

misslish19 karma

I am from Saskatchewan and I resent that.

kylemacmac29 karma

Cheer up! At least you're not in Manitoba.

jwegan44 karma

I heard you used a PR firm to spread the story. Assuming this is true

1) When did you bring them on? Right from the beginning or after you had some traction?

2) If you don't mind me asking, how much did they cost?

Also some other questions:

3) On average how many hours a day did you devote to the project?

4) Was the motivation behind the project to start a career for yourself?

Anyways, congrats on everything!

kylemacmac52 karma

1) At one point about midway when I had the year of rent in Phoenix I was getting something like 400 interview requests a day. It was insane. This student named Evan White called me up and we hit it off. He helped handle the publicity from there on out. I'm not really into discussing what I paid for things or what I make as income. It wasn't very much though. Evan's awesome. He's doing http://iwearyourshirt.com now among other things. He's even Bill Cosby's social media guy now! 3) I devoted about 10-16 hours a day to the project. Less at first, but it quickly became an all-consuming deal. I literally didn't sleep much for the second half of the project. 4) The motivation was to get out and travel to meet people and tell stories. The career stuff came about accidentally. My least favorite things to do as a kid were writing book reports and doing public speaking. Kinda writing books and doing speaking engagements now for a living. Bizarre how things turn out!

jwegan13 karma

Sounds like you got pretty far on your own before you brought in PR. How did you go about promoting your story originally?

kylemacmac38 karma

craigslist postings in different cities I was traveling to. This led to a small following. BoingBoing posted about it at one point - things really got wild at that stage. But mostly, just putting my email and cell phone right at the top of my website. So easy for media to track you down when you do that. Producers and research people were like "What? You put your phone number on the internet?" And I was like "Yeah, what's up? Want to make a trade?"

SkinnyLove137 karma

Why has everyone already asked you the questions I was going to ask?

kylemacmac91 karma

Nobody's asked this yet!

nauree38 karma

You also havnt answered it yet.

kylemacmac55 karma

I believe we're both satisfied now?

devilsadvocado37 karma

Redditor for four years, wow. You've been lurking amongst us for all this time and never bothered to say hello?

kylemacmac40 karma

I went through this above, but I'll repeat. I thought it'd be vain to an an AMA...but my pals at Sparta High and Drexel said I should do it, and here we are. Fun stuff!

pomegranati29 karma

did some people trade with you because they knew they were going to be on your blog?

kylemacmac42 karma

For sure, but just as many didn't care about being on the blog, or were actually nervous to have their picture taken. A good mix all around. I only ever traded with people who were actually going to use the trade item I swapped them.

ElZubis21 karma

I don't understand why you stopped at the house, at the rate you were going you could've owned a County or become our next President!

kylemacmac10 karma

Owning a COUNTY would be fantastic, wouldn't it!?

Rosatryne19 karma

What gave you the idea in the first place? Do you know of anyone else who has tried to replicate your tale? What do you think of the first world's dependence on a monetized economy?

kylemacmac69 karma

A game called Bigger or Better. You start with a small object and trade it for a bigger or better object. Repeat. Usually a kids game. More knocking on doors, less internet.

Thousands of people have tried (some successfully) to replicate the up-trades. Google 'cell phone for Porsche'. I think it's awesome people are doing this. I stole the idea from the game Bigger and Better in the first place.

I don't really like getting into discussions about monetized economy. Everyone has their opinions, usually completely misinformed. I traded from a red paperclip to a house once. Most of the time I just buy stuff on my credit card and deal with it later...like everyone else. Barter's fun, but incredibly inefficient. That's why money was invented. The real fun part about trading things is meeting people and making a deal. Cash is more wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, if you pardon the expression. There's room for both in this world of ours.

jameson19 karma

Barter's fun, but incredibly inefficient. That's why money was invented. The real fun part about trading things is meeting people and making a deal. Cash is more wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, if you pardon the expression. There's room for both in this world of ours.

Well, and for the most part, the reason the second half of these upward trades worked was the publicity around it at that point. A pen for a paperclip? Sure dude, whatever. Sounds fun. But most people who have a van are not going to be able to shop it around for a recording contract if they don't have the steam of a popular web phenomenon behind them. So it isn't like this was just another round of bartering. The novelty of being first made a big difference.

More power to you, of course. It's a great story and a very clever idea. But it isn't like "This is what bartering's like, and normal transactions are what cash is like."

kylemacmac31 karma

It's weird though. People out there are actually up for trading their vans or houses for things. But those things are usually quite specific. And the challenge to get those two parties to meet, and then agree on the deal is almost impossible. The fun part about all the publicity, was that I was was able to get a massive reach, and connect those people together. You need a large pool/audience to make large barter deals happen. If Conan or somebody like him tried to trade up on their TV show, they could do it easy. I've seen local radio DJs trade up to brand new Harleys in a matter of days, then auction the item for charity. Awseome stuff.

kyzf4217 karma

What would you trade me for an orange rubber band?

kylemacmac26 karma

my reditt AMA verification piece of paper.

ManOfPopsicle12 karma

Have you ever played Team Fortress 2? Seems like you would be good at it.

kylemacmac6 karma

Not yet, but maybe I'll pay Team Fortress 2 in the future!

dvorakkidd12 karma

Where did you get the initial red paper clip? Brand, weight, any other information about it would be nice as well.

kylemacmac36 karma

Pretty sure it was from a box of 200 multi-colored paperclips from a Dollarama store in Montreal. Tough to say, cause I just found the red paperclip laying on my desk. Regular size. I highly recommend Dollarama brand red paperclips.

Proovit25 karma

Caught you red-handed Dollarama salesman. Prove it!

kylemacmac34 karma

Man, Dollarama is one of my favorite stores in the whole world. I'm very happy to promote them. Love the catchphrase/username thing you got going on!

sje468 karma

Do you know where the red paperclip is now? Do Rhawnie and Corinna still have it?

kylemacmac6 karma

Corinna's got it, yep.

chimpwithalimp10 karma

Were there any main negatives about the entire process?

kylemacmac29 karma

Dealing with creeps and whiners on the phone was a bit of a drag sometimes. I tried to distance myself from anyone who was slimey, or anyone who was really over dramatic and needy. But overall, the experience was positive and fun. Most people liked the idea, and I got to meet amazing people.

[deleted]10 karma

So do you like living in Kipling? Happy with the house?

kylemacmac34 karma

We lived in Kipling for some time, but my wife and I live in Montreal now. Super happy with the house. It's now a cafe, and along with the world's largest red paperclip, arguably one of the most popular tourist attractions to town!

demusdesign9 karma

So I read that you've moved from Kipling to Montreal. I'm curious about how the regulars in Kipling received you. I know the mayor must have been really awesome, but did you get any unwelcome guests or angry stares at the store?

Maybe I've just seen too many fish-out-of-water movies...

kylemacmac22 karma

Without exaggeration, living in Kipling was like being on the Truman Show. No giant dome, or live TV cameras, but everyone in town knew who my wife and I were, and people drove by the house all the time to take pictures in front of it. It was an very interesting experience. The part I found the most challenging was the fact that while everyone on the streets recognized us and said hello, we simply couldn't know everyone and return the acknowledgment. So there was a funny dual standard going on. We made some great friends, and we try to get back to town to visit folks when we can. By far the best experience of having the house was meeting awesome Kipling residents, and just hanging out...doing stuff like going quading, drinking, etc.

mothium9 karma

I have a whole box of paperclips, a variety of colours. Would you like to swap them for your house?

kylemacmac26 karma

What size paperclips we talking about?

msdesireeg6 karma

How often do people now try to give you paperclips for your house? How many times a day? And do you indulge them every time, or sometimes do you say, "How about I trade the heel of my boot for the skin off your forehead?"

kylemacmac20 karma

I usually just deflect the question with a response like: "What size paperclips we talking about?"

RuskiesInTheWarRoom9 karma

Any objects you wanted to take, but couldn't/didn't, and didn't blog about?

kylemacmac31 karma

So many. The toughest part was deciding what to trade for. Each trade item brought in a flood of new offers. I had more than 1000 offers for some of the trade items. It was like living a choose your own adventure. A couple "I'll trade you my virginity" type ones came along, and I'm not sure if I posted those, but some other stuff like "Full Body Tattoo for 2 people" was a tough one to turn down. I would've loved to find somebody who'd want to trade for that!

karmafighter8 karma

Dude they did a VW commercial about you! Did you get any royalties from that?

kylemacmac31 karma

Yeah, VW Spain! It was pretty fun to watch creative ad type guys visit rural Saskatchewan in the middle of winter. They were dressed up like it was an arctic expedition. I got a few paperclips from those guys. Here's the director's cut: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TJxrF3s454 Grolsch also did a red paperclip-inspired ad around the same time. I never got any beers for it, but they promised 'em to me the next time I visit Amsterdam. Gotta hit those guys up! Here's their ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62lL0xlwoz4

robots_girl8 karma

Damnit! A paperclip? Really? I'm 22 and my fiancée is 24 and we are both employed and STILL live with his parents because we can't afford life and you manage to get a house with a paperclip? Kudos to you, my friend. I wonder if I can trade my 20-something pairs of hand-me-down shoes for a wedding. Or maybe my two broken hand-me-down laptops for a year of free rent! Very cool story.

kylemacmac5 karma

Sure, why not? Go for it!

sfacets6 karma

Do you think you would have ever made it that far without the help of the internet and the press? Alot of the exchanges seemed to happen because people wanted to be part of your 15 minutes...

kylemacmac9 karma

Sure, it's possible. Google 'cell phone for Porsche'. I went into media-land because they kept calling me and it was really fun.

[deleted]4 karma

How much did you have to pay for travel costs between each trade?

kylemacmac7 karma

I only paid for one flight the entire time. Every other trade was when I was in different places for different jobs and such. Some people scored me airline points to make trades, some chipped in for fuel costs. It was all about maximizing trading opportunities when I was already in different cities for other reasons.

[deleted]4 karma

You said that one cool thing about the trading was the people you met. How many of the people you traded with are you still in contact with, if any?

kylemacmac10 karma

I kinda answered this one already, but here we go: I see people from time to time. We're spread about quite a bit, so it's tough to keep in touch. Almost all the traders made it to the big housewarming party as well as my wedding the following year. Corinna (the first trader) has a red paperclip tattoo on her shoulder. I'm in touch with more than half of the 12 or so traders.