Another Independent Content Site: RIP?

When I talk about how independent sites like True need your direct and ongoing support, I’ll often emphasize that all independent sites need such support; if you like “them” (whoever “they” might be), you need to support them so they can continue. And indeed one of the oldest, most venerable content sites has stopped publishing and is in very real danger of failing completely.

It’s one you’ve probably heard of. Like True, the Top Five list has been publishing since 1994, but it ceased publishing new content in August.

That’s a tragedy.

Right now, my friend Chris White is struggling to get things going again, and is selling nifty ad spots on his home page to get the funds to do it. I did buy some squares, but I’m not suggesting that you have to do that (but it’ll help!) He also has a “premium” type subscription, but you don’t have to do that necessarily either (but it’ll help!)

We All Need Readers

You can also help by signing up for the Letterman-like humor lists (for now, you’ll get classic “best-of” content). You can help by spreading the word about his unique, independent content.

How? Like many have done for True, you can forward their free newsletters to friends with your recommendation. You can put links on your blog or web site. (Or Twitter page, or Facebook page, or….)

Again, all independent content sites, not just True, truly do need your help to compete against the media giants. If you don’t help, the little guys can and will fail, leaving you only with content from the media giants — and in that world, we all lose.

I look forward to your comments on this — or your favorite story about Top Five.

2010 Update

I saw Chris a party at Club 33 in December 2010. He is working on a plan to keep the Top Five list going.

TRUE’s Randy Cassingham and Top Five’s Chris White at Disneyland. Those who know Chris will not be surprised his mouth is open: he’s always trying to get a one-liner in! (Photo by Bob Rankin of The Internet Tourbus. Yep, many of the email publishing pioneers know each other in real life, too!)

And in 2012…

Well, it really is dead: Chris sold the Top Five domain. And The Internet Tourbus ceased publication in 2011. Sigh!

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8 Comments on “Another Independent Content Site: RIP?

  1. I concur wholeheartedly with Randy’s comments about TopFive. Although I have not (yet) met Chris White, he has always provided excellent, personal customer service, and I was sorely disappointed to learn he took the site down for a breather.

    I have been a premium subscriber to TopFive for many years and even upgraded to a Lifetime Membership. When I found Chris needed to take a break, I offered to provide him additional financial support and mailed him a sizable (for me, at least) check in September. I feel that we will all lose some great sites – and contact with great people – if TopFive and ThisIsTrue disappear.

  2. I agree in principle that people should support sites they like BUT I went to this site and found nothing funny or worth my time. Maybe the site failed because to many people agree with me that it was not a good site. Just as businesses fail in a free enterprise system, sites fail if not able to develop and maintain a large enough client base. For you to call this site closing a tragedy is silly. What happened to you recently when you were cut off by some ISP’s because of stupid people reporting you as spam instead of unsubscribing was a tragedy.

    If you didn’t take a moment to look at the content on the site, you are making a judgment without information, which is “silly” (to use your word). The content is great; the presentation sucks. You simply didn’t give it a chance. That’s your loss. -rc

  3. I’ve been a Club TopFive member for about the last 6 years and joined Club Rum (the Deep Thoughts type list) almost as soon as it started. I can’t say enough good things about both subscriptions. I was a fan of TopFive for a time before I signed up and my reaction was similar to many people’s reactions to Premium True — that being why didn’t I do this sooner?

    I also can’t say enough good things about Chris. I haven’t talked to him many times, but any time I’ve needed him or simply had a question or a comment he’s always been very nice and very helpful.

    Everybody support TopFive any way you can. It would be horrible to see the same thing happen there that seems to be happening to Ray Owens from JokeADay, another fantastically entertaining and great guy. No disrespect intended to True, but his letters page used to be the highlight of my week.

    Indeed, Joke-a-Day seems to have faded away. All the addresses I had for Ray now bounce, so my inquiries have gone unanswered. It’s really sad to see the old, independent sites dying off. -rc

  4. I have Randy’s first green hardback “Deputy Kills Man with Hammer” book. If my hard drives hadn’t crashed, I’d have TopFive lists dating back to around then as well. They’re both top-notch sites and I’m so glad that Randy’s supporting Chris in the latter’s attempt at reorganization. Cheers to TRUE!

  5. I found Top 5 through True originally and have been a subscriber to both for several years now. I have several reasons for hoping to see Top 5 resurrect:

    1) I enjoy the lists and marvel at how Chris can come up with such creative topics 2) I absolutely *love* participating when he has a reader’s submission topic and seeing my name “in print” if he uses my contribution; 3) the wacky websites people come up with for “Too much fun links of the day” 4) I’d hate to see Chris stuck living in his parent’s basement *forever* and last, but not least 5) I just bought a “lifetime” subscription–not having any idea said life would be cut so short…

  6. Randy, I want to thank you for reminding me of this site.

    I had been a subscriber for a number of years, but I changed ISPs a few times and lost track of it. I even have a folder in “Outlook” where I kept some of my favorite columns.

    I resubscribed using one of my web based addresses so I’ll get it as long as Chris keeps sending it. I will be forwarding a few (free) columns to friends and family so they can enjoy it and hopefully subscribe themselves.

  7. And thank YOU for your support, Randy! ThisIsTrue and Top5 are both wonderful sites, and are great examples of the empowerment of the internet that allows creative individuals to make their mark (and a difference for others) in this crazy world. I think the fact that both have been online since 1994 (pause and reflect on that: NINETEEN NINETY-FOUR, kids!) testifies to their basic soundness and importance. The loss of these (or other sites like them) would be truly tragic.

    And to paraphrase a wise man: the only thing required for this tragedy to occur would be for “…good men to do nothing”. Guys like you and Chris White are the standard-bearers providing hope for the rest of us, and reminders that independent/small business is the backbone of America.

    Keep up the great work, and good luck! Oh…and screw mega-corporate mediocrity and homogeneity!

  8. I, too, was saddened to see Ray Owens’ Joke-a-Day fade away several years ago, but if I remember correctly, it wasn’t due to lack of support. Ray went through a rough divorce and his ex-wife got the lion’s share of him and everything he owned. Then his girlfriend, who he set up in business, fooled around on him and that pushed him over the edge. He no longer had the heart or the time and money to fully support JAD. If I am wrong in my recollection, I apologize, but the distinction needs to be made. I have never really read Top 5, though I browsed it when it was linked to on JAD. I never really found it funny, so I did not follow or support it. Perhaps others are of the same mind. I was once a supporter of JAD and am a current supporter of This Is True. I find Randy’s content and commentary thought provoking as well as funny, providing me with a perceived value, and that is why I have stuck with This Is True through the years.

    I’m not privy to Ray’s personal issues, but my impression was that he couldn’t keep JAD’s cash flow going — in part due to a lifetime subscription model, which I have rejected for TRUE since it’s a common trap for publishers. -rc


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