Quite a few Premium subscribers actually stay on the free distribution specifically to see the advertising. That’s cool: the advertisers pay for this free distribution, so it’s nice that people actually look at the ads! But now and then people whine about the ads. That’s dumb: without them, they wouldn’t be getting the newsletter at all, would they?!
Sometimes it’s not the concept of the ads, but an advertiser in particular. I’m not going to say what advertiser, but Bill in Maryland whined about one who ran here recently, saying I need to stop taking that ad.
I have a canned response I have for such whines: it notes I already prohibit ads in certain categories, like “adult” or gambling sites. I even nix tobacco. And of course anything that is, to my knowledge, illegal.
Do You Need My Protection?
As far as whether something is a good deal or not, I let the readers decide for themselves whether something is “worth it” to them, or “good enough” for their use; I trust your intelligence to know that ads are ads, and there just might be a little hype in them from time to time. And if you just can’t deal with that, there are two options: 1) Upgrade to Premium, which doesn’t have outside advertising, or 2) Unsubscribe so you don’t have to see the two brief commercials in the content you enjoy.
That explanation wasn’t good enough for Bill. He replied: “All I asked you to do was look into this guy and decide whether you wanted to be connected with him. I wasn’t busting your chops, I gave you direct and private feedback. I can deal with ads just fine, and do so on a daily basis. Your response to my feedback is inconsistent with the ethical ‘straight shooter’ I’d imagined you to be, though. Kindly consider this my request to avail myself of Option 2.”
I can just see the tears streaming down his face as he typed. Boo hoo! And now he expects me to “look into” the advertiser!
Meanwhile another reader — let me guess: a Friend Of Bill? Quite the bit of timing there — helpfully provided a URL that purports to say why the advertised product isn’t wonderful to prove why I need to ban the advertiser.
What, now I’m supposed to conduct an investigation? And then what, am I also supposed to “investigate” the anti-website that he sent me to? Maybe it was posted by a competitor who’s trying to unfairly slander his better? Hell, I promote Paypal all the time, but there are plenty of people who completely hate them; what does he propose I do, say “I accept Paypal, but PaypalSucks.com has some horror stories”? (And yes, that is a real web site with real horror stories!)
Every Company Has a Horror Story
No matter what the company is, there are people who hate it, and probably plenty of horror stories about them. Heck: some people probably hate True, and are very willing to whine online about how I wouldn’t publish a story they sent in or something.
What does that prove? Nothing, except maybe people have way too much time on their hands. I like Dell computers, but there are plenty of horror stories about them — including one I wrote that’s listed #1 in Google! (Not even counting the lead story this week’s issue, of course. 🙂
But here’s what really irritates me about people like Bill: he sends me this URL of a horror story (which I read, and it’s not any too horrible: the poster says she returned the product for a refund and — gasp — didn’t get it right away! She actually had to wait until the post office got it to her! Sob.)
So based on this, he demands that I never run an ad for the company again.
So what is he really saying? Nothing less than “I’m smart enough to know that there ‘could be’ a problem with your advertiser, but your other readers aren’t so smart and you should protect them by refusing the ad.”
Since any company could have unsatisfied customers putting up horror stories, from Dell to Paypal to little web sites, I don’t kowtow to such demands. Not just because the people who make such complaints insist they are smarter than you, but because of this: if I was willing to censor advertisers because they have an unsatisfied customer out there, what sort of publication would this be? Simply: one that insists you must be an idiot unless proven otherwise — which, come to think of it, is how a lot of publications treat their readers. Me? I prefer to think you’re smart unless proven otherwise. Deal with it! And if you can’t, well, the unsubscribe link is at the bottom of every issue, Bill in Maryland!
I later dropped one of the ads — and added another story — to the free edition, so instead of four stories + 2 ads it’s now 5 stories + 1 ad, all made possible by reader support.
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This page is an example of This is True’s style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. True is a newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition, and bring up questions about society — in an entertaining way. If you enjoyed this page, consider scrolling up to the top of the page for a free email subscription.
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