UPDATE to the Update! I Won’t Have to Stop Selling physical products to Colorado customers as of December 15, 2018 — No! May 31st, 2019, only because This is True is actually in Colorado …but (sigh!) I might have to in 2020. Jump to the Update or read on.
Sometimes I Smile, Sometimes I Roll My Eyes: About the news business, that is. As a news commentary column, news is, of course, the road this publication drives on. Here’s what I mean.
When readers unsubscribe from the free newsletter, the service I use allows them to send feedback — and while not everyone provides that, I always read it when they do.
Happily, the most-common feedback is along the lines of “I’ve upgraded to Premium” so they don’t want the subset of stories in the free edition that they’ve already read.
See Update Below! Patreon broke trust with every Patron registered with them, including This is True’s supporters, by suddenly announcing they would soon charge them more than their pledged amount. They billed it as something positive for creators. It absolutely is not: it is bad for creators. We creators got no advance notice of this, and no way to “opt out” … Continue Reading
In my recent post about watching the Internet “grow up,” I noted True was a driving force in setting the “best practices” around email publishing — I pushed the first true Email Service Provider to add features I wanted, and one of those features was “double opt-in.”
After My Discussion Last Week that said True is suffering tough times due to a reduction in Premium subscribers since the election, and really needs about 1 percent of you to upgrade to just get up to the “minimum sustainable” target to make the publication fully viable, Joe in California wrote to say he didn’t … Continue Reading
Long-time readers may remember that years ago, I had a separate mailing list called “Randy’s Random” — mostly jokes and funny stories. But how to deal with graphics? I didn’t want to email graphics, so Randy’s Random then morphed into Jumbo Joke, which (as you probably know) ran for years. I sold it a year ago.
True’s Patreon campaign to help keep this publication going has broken its first goal: scores of readers have joined together to get great rewards, and, as of last Thursday, together are now providing more than $1,000/month funding to help pay the bills.
Premium Subscriber Erik in Nevada wanted to really help True, but he didn’t want to do it via the new effort on Patreon, the “crowd-funding” platform for creative endeavors.
(Also see Update below.)
Last Week, I Noted I Had a High-Risk (but “audacious”) goal for True — and came up with a way to take most of the risk away.
It’s a Matter of Control.
This is True went online in the first half of 1994, so True has been in business longer than many big names in the Internet biz, including Google (1998). As a classic feature column, I received (and turned down) syndication offers from two different newspaper syndicates, including one of the biggest in the business, because I wanted full control of True’s publication rights — including its online presence. And as of today, I’ve turned off Google’s “Adsense” service on this site for the same reason: to assert my control.
What Would You Include as significant milestones in the “history” of weird news?
While Looking for Something Else, I came across this letter from a reader dated May 30 …2005:
The Minor Format Change introduced last week brought a lot of positive comments. Just one example: “Love, love, love the new way you tease the ‘missing’ Premium stories.” —Mark in New Jersey. That’s awfully nice. But, of course, there were protest unsubscribes last week because I stopped gathering all the “stories you missed” summaries into a large paragraph, and instead left their story slugs up among the full stories, and included a brief summary of the story there. A few examples:
In June, This is True celebrates 21 years online — a pioneer in online publishing that predates Facebook, Google, Amazon, and the vast majority of other web sites you can find online today.
A Letter from Roland in Kent, England (where my family name comes from), really got spinning through my mind, because it really helps to put everything in perspective. Let me explain — starting with Roland’s letter (the italics are from the original):
In a discussion group I frequent, one of the members posed a link, and wondered:
“Not sure if the writers here see the need for this….”
An Interesting Article on the site Artist Empathy (yeah, I hadn’t heard of it before either) discusses “The Pomplamoose Problem”…
A reader thought I should go on Reddit and do an AMA, or “Ask Me Anything” event. I do have a Reddit account, but I’ve been far from active there, and I’m a bit dubious that I’m known there. It’d be pretty icky to do an AMA and not have anyone show up. But after pondering it for several months, I thought I’d do an AMA outside of Reddit, and invite the Premium subscribers to ask the questions.
This Week Marks a Huge Milestone for This is True: the end of its 20th year. It started as a bulletin board item outside my office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The first one, dated 26 June 1994, was written to go into my business plan — I hadn’t actually gotten distribution set up. As I was working on the tech, I kept writing a new column each week and, when it went online in July 1994, it was an instant hit, quickly ramping up in circulation.