Frequently Asked Questions

Thanks for checking here for your question rather than emailing and waiting for days for a reply.

  1. I have questions about the copyright/forwarding.
  2. The issue I just got arrived on Saturday, but the date on it is last Sunday! Why?
  3. I like Randy’s style. Will he come give a talk to my group?
  4. What in the world does “arcie” mean?
  5. I suddenly stopped getting my issues. Are you on vacation?
  6. Can I get back issues that I missed? Or, do you have a story about <whatever> you can send me?
  7. Who or what is “AWeber”?
  8. Is True associated with the “Darwin Awards” that go around by email?
  9. Can I submit stories (or an Honorary Unsubscribe nomination) for inclusion in True?
  10. Can I give True books or Premium upgrades as gifts?
  11. True seems to use an odd punctuation style around quotation marks. Why?


1. I have questions about the copyright notice. Just what is and is not allowed, and why?

That is covered in detail in its very own Copyright FAQ.


2. The issue I just got arrived on Saturday, but the date on it is last Sunday! Why did it get here so late?

Please see your “Welcome” message that you got when you subscribed. It explains True’s publishing schedule. In summary, the stories are written on Sundays, Premium subscribers get their newsletters Monday evenings, and the free edition comes out Friday evenings (USA time). Premium subscribers also get quite a few other benefits for their modest subscription fee. See this page for details.


3. I like Randy’s style. Will he come give a talk to my group?

Yes, I do consider speaking engagements. More info is here.


4. What in the world does “arcie” mean, and where did it come from? (“arcie” is my main email address)

Say it out loud, and you’ll probably get it. Back in the olden days when I actually worked for a living, it was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In my early years there, NASA employees didn’t commonly have Internet-connected email, but some did have access to “NASAmail” (a private network running Telemail software). My most frequent correspondent there in the late 1980s was a friend at NASA headquarters named John, and to spice up the exchanges we would include funny spellings of various things. I started to address John as “Jawn”, and John would address me by my initials, RC, which morphed into aRCie (pronounced “RC”), which later was simplified to arcie. It’s been arcie since. Jawn died in 2014, and is discussed here.


5. I suddenly stopped getting my issues. Are you on vacation?

Pretty much even when I am on vacation issues still come out. But if not, I’d announce it way in advance. More likely, your subscription was dropped from the list because your copy “bounced” back repeatedly. If you suspect you’ve been dropped off the list (e.g., your server was down for a couple of weekends), just go ahead and subscribe again — the server will either re-subscribe you, or reactivate a subscription that was put on “hold” because of bounces. Just subscribe again using the form on virtually any page of this site.

For Premium subscribers, the typical reason for missing issues is overzealous spam filtering. Always log in to your mail provider via the web as your first step: check the spam folder and mark any mail as “not spam” to “train” your provider’s filters.

Note I do not respond to anti-spam “challenge/response” messages; to ensure you get the mail you asked for, be sure to “whitelist” (allow) mail from thisistrue.com.


6. Can I get back issues that I missed? Or, do you have a story about <whatever> you can send me?

Sorry, but I can’t provide back issues of This is True. For one thing, it would quickly get out of hand (though I do appreciate your comments!) I’m already buried in mail, but add on trying to find the story you’re thinking about, convert it to email, and send it to you? Sorry: ain’t gonna happen.

But there are three resources available to you: 1) The most recent issue is always here, and the one before that is always here. 2) There are several book compilations of past stories (with more coming), each volume containing a full year of stories. And 3) There is also an online archive with thousands of stories, and you can use the search function to find specific stories or topics.


7. What’s “AWeber”? I see that site associated with your emails.

AWeber is an “ESP” — Email Service Provider — and the company I use to distribute tens of thousands of emails for all of my free lists every week. They are the best company in the field, and I trust them completely. More info here.


8. Is This is True associated with the “Darwin Awards” that go around by email?

The short answer: No.

The longer answer: No. The “central authority” (if you will) of “real” Darwin stories (tales of people erasing themselves from the gene pool — or nearly so — by doing something incredibly stupid) is at DarwinAwards.com.

There are three categories of “Darwin” stories: 1) Those that are true (such as those on the Darwin Awards web site); 2) Those that are completely made up (and what’s the fun in that?); and 3) Those that started out as true, but have been greatly embellished with made-up details over time.

This is True, however, is associated with the True Stella Awards — cases of outrageous but true lawsuits — which wrapped up several years ago. Unsurprisingly, that web site is StellaAwards.com.


9. Can I submit stories (or an Honorary Unsubscribe nomination) for inclusion in True?

Sure: that’s been the case since True started in 1994. See this page for details. As far as the Honorary Unsubscribe, that’s much harder in the sense of timing, and that’s discussed in this blog post.


10. How do I give True books and Premium upgrades as gifts?

I’m happy to work with you on gift orders. See this page for details.


11. Why does True use non-standard punctuation marks around quotation marks?

“Standard” depends on your point of view. An average American would write

I like “This is True,” which I get every week.

while a typical Brit would write

I like “This is True”, which I get every week.

See the difference in the placement of the comma? The American system is illogical and counter-intuitive: the name of the publication is, in fact, “This is True”. Its name certainly does not include a comma, as implied by standard American quotation mark usage. “British punctuation style” is much more logical and correct. American schools teach the former because it means the writer doesn’t have to think — they can just follow a simplistic rule. Accuracy? Forget it — it’s not even considered. True is about thinking, about accuracy, about education. It follows logic when punctuating, not lazy school rules.

(This entry spawned quite a discussion when a reader was offended by this answer!)

4 Comments on “Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I upgraded a while back to the Premium edition of “this is True”, but recently I received the free edition again. I was just wondering if I was still going to get the Premium as well, but why the free one? By the way, I really enjoy the full edition and wonder why I waited so long.

    Glad you’re enjoying it. I know it’s hard to keep track of every detail, but that’s answered on the Upgrade Page:

    You are left on the free distribution — you can decide for yourself whether you want both or not. (Many Premium subscribers prefer to get both.) Unsubscribing from the free edition does not affect your Premium subscription. (There’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every free issue.)

    -rc

    Reply
  2. I’ve been a free subscriber for a very long time, and have never written in. Today changes that! I wanted to just thank you for providing endless humor! There have been many times I have wanted to upgrade, but I have never been able to. For the last year, I have been hospitalized….no worries, I am now well enough that I get to finish recovery at home with my husband. It has, however, been a very long road that started with pneumonia. From there, I woke from a drug induced coma to find I could not use my limbs. During my rehab, and the times that my husband was unable to visit daily, your column helped to keep my spirits up, and kept me fighting. This past July, I became septic for the second time, ending up with a respirator and a colostomy. Thankfully, I am now off the respirator. I get to keep the colostomy for another year, but it is reversible. I just wanted you to know my story, since you have been so kind as to share your stories with me. Keep them coming to my inbox!

    Wow, that’s quite a struggle! And if TRUE has helped you to keep your spirits up, I’m quite gratified. Take care, and enjoy TRUE! -rc

    Reply
  3. CHANGE OF FORMAT…. Please change the format to narrow columns since WIDE — across the entire screen makes for more difficult reading. Perhaps double columns would work better with the size of print you are utilizing.

    See this page, Jerry: I don’t set a font size, you do. I don’t set a line length, you do. And that’s the way it should be! -rc

    Reply
  4. Is there a place where one can comment on articles in the newsletter?

    Yes: by replying to the issue with the story. That is one of the ways I know readers want to talk about specific stories, and if there is enough interesting commentary coming in on any particular story, then it’s typical for the story (and those comments) to be moved to the blog for other readers to weigh in also. -rc

    Reply

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