Can’t Help But Laugh

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 … Continue Reading

I Can No Longer Recommend Patreon

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 your 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

Mailchimp Makes a Monkey of Us All

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.” I don’t claim to have come up with … Continue Reading

The Ongoing Struggle

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

The Return of Randy’s Random

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 because I was tired of maintaining it.

Continue ReadingThe Return of Randy’s Random

Why I’ve Removed Google’s Ads

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.

Continue ReadingWhy I’ve Removed Google’s Ads

Forging My Own Path

What Would You Include as significant milestones in the “history” of weird news? I really had to roll my eyes this weekend when a reader sent me the URL to an article from the July/August issue of the in-print (and, obviously, online) Pacific Standard magazine: “Who, What, Where, When, Weird — How oddball items came to dominate the news business, and became normal in the process.” — billed as a history of “weird news” and where it’s going, what with that newfangled Internet thing and all.

Continue ReadingForging My Own Path

“Only in Premium”

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:

Continue Reading“Only in Premium”

Writers Write

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….”

The link was to a Kickstarter pitch for the “Hemingwrite — A Distraction Free Digital Typewriter” which “combines the simplicity of a typewriter with all of the modern conveniences of living in 2014: cloud documents, e-paper display, and full-size mechanical keyboard.”

“Why?” the sales pitch asks.

Continue ReadingWriters Write

Ask Me Anything

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. It was set up using an online survey site so that it would be easy to make it anonymous (but questioners were allowed to leave their names if they wished), and promised to answer the most interesting questions in my blog.

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20 Years …and Counting

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 that, though, 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.

Continue Reading20 Years …and Counting

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