Today’s crop of e-mail messages illustrate how bothersome people can be.
I get about 10-20 unsolicited non-spam e-mail messages today. These are e-mail messages from people I don’t know.
One of the reasons that number is so low is because I actively discourage people from contacting me for help. While this may turn some people off, it’s the only way I can limit e-mail so I get work done.
But today’s inbox included three examples of e-mail messages I try to avoid. They’re either nasty or they’re trying to pull me into a discussion I’m not interested in being a part of.
The first e-mail came from the reader of a web site I maintain with information about my town. The site’s called wickenburg-az.com and it’s full of content submitted by contributors to the site. It’s not funded by anyone, although we occasionally do get a donation to help cover hosting costs. It’s also not designed to provide every piece of information anyone could want to know about the town. The town is small, but it would take a full time staff of at least 20 people to manage that kind of information.
I’m not sure, but I think person who sent the e-mail message read a post I’d written back in 2006 about St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. It’s a beautiful little church in downtown Wickenburg. I’m not a religious person, but I do appreciate good architecture and the main gist of this short piece was to show a nice photo of the church.
Or he may have read another post called “Churches in Wickenburg,” also from 2006, that the Webmaster used to list the names and phone numbers of all the churches in town.
In any case, his nasty message was as follows:
I’ll bet many Wickenburg visitors are forced to phone you to find out the mass times. Why should this be so?
It is NOT difficult to put this info on your home page and it would certainly be a service to visitors.
If you want to use the internet, use it to your advantage.
First of all, no one phones me about Wickenburg, mostly because my phone number is not listed online or in the phone book. And besides, wouldn’t it be easier to call the church in question than to call me? And does he really think I’m going to put church service times on my site’s home page?
Also, many — but not all — people who use the Contact Us link to contact us can read where it clearly says:
All of the information we have about Wickenburg, its businesses, and its events are included on this Web site. We do not have any additional information that we can send out to site visitors.
The people who can read and comprehend this realize that they’d be wasting their time asking me for more information. The ones who can’t read or comprehend it really do waste their time because I simply delete their messages without a response.
But the ones who are nasty to me, get a nasty response. Here’s what this jerk got today:
What are you talking about? No one calls me for “mass times.” I don’t even know what you’re referring to.
And if YOU want to use the Internet, I suggest you stop being so rude to people providing FREE services.
He may think that for some reason I care whether he visits the site. If so, he’s wrong. I really don’t care. The site’s a labor of love and it’s not for people who don’t appreciate the effort that goes into it — people like him.
And is it me or is this just another example of the hypocrisy of these “Christian” types? If they’re so good, then why are they so nasty? What would Jesus say?
The next guy wasn’t so bad, but there was something in the tone of his message that got under my skin. Maybe I was already revved up by the churchgoer referred to above.
This was in reference to the Robbie book I’m distributing in North America for its Australia-based author. I did a mass mailing of postcards to Robinson owners that has resulted in a few orders and general interest in the book.
I received a postcard offering for sale your book “Robbie” which I’d like to order. I reviewed your web site for companies you photographed and noticed the premier remote Robinson R44 flying company, “XXX Aviation”, wasn’t on the list. Is that the case or is it actually part of the book?
I XXXed out the name of the company here because I didn’t want to embarrass anyone. I’d never heard of the company and have no clue where it’s based. I know that the author of the book tried to visit as many Robinson operators as he could but many operators simply told him they weren’t interested in being included.
I think it was the word “premier” that hit a sore spot with me. It was almost as if he were saying, your book can’t be very good if you left out the best company out there.
I responded as follows:
First of all, the book isn’t ours. It’s a publication of Eye in the Sky Productions in Australia. Flying M Productions is the North American distributor and has no control over content.
To my knowledge, the only companies included in the book are the ones listed on our site. They’re the same ones listed on the author’s and publisher’s sites.
I know from discussions with Jon Davison that there were MANY Robinson operators that turned down his offer to be included in the book. Perhaps XXX was one of them? This is something Jon could answer for you, if you need to know. He can be contacted through his Web site, http://eyeinthesky.com.au/
Hope that didn’t come off as nasty.
Loved Your Book; Can You Help Me?
The next message followed the tried-and-true formula so many readers use to contact me for help and advice. The first sentence or paragraph tells me how much they liked one of my books. The next sentence or paragraph is their plea for help.
Here’s today’s catch:
First, I have read your great book on WordPress, and I just want to thank you for a job well done.
My question: I was thinking about creating a site similar to yours for my town in NY where I live. I would like to know your opinion about it, and whether it’s possible to make money out of it.
In defense of this person, he used the contact form on wickenburg-az.com instead of the one on this site. The one on this site basically tells people that I don’t provide support or advice via e-mail or any other method. Instead, I provide Q&A posts for each book that’s still in print and ask them to comment there. This way, their question and my response can be read by others who might have the same question.
In this case, the book in question is 2-1/2 years old and covers WordPress 2.0. I’m pretty sure it’s out of print, since we decided not to revise it for WordPress 2.5. WordPress is now up to version 2.6, with 2.7 due out shortly. Since 2.5, I’ve been doing video courses about WordPress for Lynda.com.
To be fair, his question wasn’t about WordPress. He wanted to know if I make money on wickenburg-az.com. While I realize that’s not exactly what he asked, reading between the lines results in that question.
First of all, I don’t. Second, it’s none of his business. Third, I know from experience that a response would only start a dialog that I have no desire to participate in.
But I responded anyway:
Thanks for the kind words about my book. In answer to your question, no.
I’m a Bitch and I Know It
I know I can really be a bitch sometimes. It’s one of my shortcomings. It has to do with my complete lack of patience. That’s likely because I was born and raised in the New York City area, where we learn from a young age not to tolerate bullshit.
In fact, during a job performance review, I was once complemented on my failure to tolerate bullshit — using that exact word. My boss said something like, “What I like about you is that you don’t take bullshit from anyone. That’s good.” In the real world business of finance, accounting, and auditing, it is a good trait to have.
Elsewhere, it’s kind of limiting.
I do like to help people, but it irks me to no end when you provide a service for free and people have the nerve to complain about it — especially in a nasty way. This is something that bloggers deal with all too often. It just reminds me that there are people out there who would look a gift horse in the mouth (so to speak) and still complain bitterly if the horse’s teeth had gold fillings but one tooth was missing.
People also need to realize that I simply don’t have time to enter into one-on-one e-mail advice sessions with anyone who happens to have read one of my 72 books. Let’s be real, folks. The purchase of one of my books does not entitle anyone to free, unlimited advice and support for the rest of my life. I’ve written about readers who just don’t get it here and here. And I’ll likely write about it again in the future.
Comments? Keep it civil.