It happens once in awhile that someone really wants to whine at me for something, but doesn’t have the guts to sign their name. Normally, such complaints are summarily trashed: if they can’t even sign their name to their opinion, then really, what’s that opinion worth?
This weekend I heard from a guy (and I am assuming it’s a guy) who is so afraid of his own opinion he even used a fake email address and (probably) used a proxy server when he used my contact form so that he couldn’t be traced at all. The IP address that was auto-stamped on the message was a server in India, but I doubt that’s where he’s from.
What’s it All About, Arcie?
In virtually every free edition of True, there’s a pitch to readers to upgrade to the paid version. It’s what makes the entire operation here run — it sure ain’t the ads, which don’t quite pay the bill for the ESP that distributes the free edition.
The edition that came out Christmas Eve (2010) was no exception, except that on Christmas I sweetened the pot a little. First, I noted that I don’t even accept ads in the Christmas edition. Vendors don’t exactly line up for them to sell things that week, and by then people are really tired of being sold to.
“On the other hand,” I continued, “maybe you want something for yourself! If you upgrade to a one-year Premium edition before the end of the year (my time here in Colorado!), you’ll get this week’s Premium edition (see below for the stories you missed), next week’s Premium, and your upgrade won’t expire until January 2 of 2012! I don’t recall ever offering extra issues on an upgrade before; maybe I’m just moved by the holiday cheer. Don’t delay: I may never do this again.”
It was a sweet enough offer that I had record Christmas-day sales. Yet the reader, who entered his name as “Somebody” on the contact form, took exception to it.
Mr. “Somebody” Wrote:
You press hard to sell your ‘stories’ as if you yourself or your organized entity (firm) gather these stories all around the world with your own efforts and money. I bet that’s not the case. I guess it is just a search you do and compile ‘already published or reported’ stories and then sell it.
If you think people should ‘buy’ your stories then you are betting on the foolish attitude of the masses. I find as much as 10 times these stories (including the ones you send) without paying anything else other than my internet connection charges (which all of your paid subscribers pay as well).
So, my point is – you are taking advantage of either the laziest people or the most fool ones on earth. Good luck! you will continue receiving this money as long as such people are dwelling this planet!
Whoosh! Right Over His Head
Obviously, this guy has been reading for awhile — yet he still has no idea what True is, how it works, or has grasped the often-stated dual purpose of its existence: to entertain, and to make people think. While he might be entertained by the stories, he has failed miserably at the thinking part.
It’s rather obvious that I don’t have reporters all over the world doing original first-hand reporting. It would be rather impossible, as anyone who thought about it for 5 or more seconds would realize. And Mr. Somebody “bets” that I don’t. Wow! Isn’t he perceptive!
True has always been billed as “News Commentary” — the point isn’t to just tell you what happened, but to comment on each story and, by extension with the entire body of work, society as a whole. No other “weird news” feature does that; it’s what sets True apart. The point, obviously, is that we can learn from watching stupid people doing stupid things. Even, sometimes, readers!
No Mere Compilation
Of course, as has been pointed out before, True‘s writers must rewrite the source stories for two reasons: 1) if we didn’t, we’d be violating the copyright of the publication that provided the facts (one cannot copyright facts, but most publications, including True, do copyright how those facts are “expressed,” to use the legal term), and 2) even if we didn’t have to rewrite the stories for legal and moral reasons, we need to for practical reasons: the average newspaper story is upwards of 750 words; the average True story is around 100 — we’re trying to get to the point, and it does take a certain amount of skill to do that and still make sense.
There’s certainly no “search and compile” operation going on here, as is patently obvious.
Pretty much all of the “weird news” sites have more stories than True. Discerning people know that quantity has little to do with quality. True’s readers aren’t just looking for scads of stories; they want to know what I find worthy of being read, and they want some thought-provoking commentary to go with the stories. That’s what sets them apart.
As far as “betting on the foolish attitude of the masses,” stupid people don’t like True very much. They don’t understand it, and reading it is like looking at themselves in a funhouse mirror.
The Ones Who Get It
Rather than fools, it’s the smart people who understand what True is about, and who wish to support it so that it will continue. And many thousands of them are past or current Premium subscribers, which is why True has been able to run for 17 years now!
Not all the smart people who like it can afford an upgrade, I know, and that’s OK: at least the free option exists for them. They understand that the only “foolish” thing is to whine about the free offering.
Smart people can and do disagree with the points made, but whine about the free offering? No, only the fools do that. And the funny thing is, Mr. Somebody clearly understands that — why else would he think so little of his own opinion that he’d not only withhold his identity, but work to conceal it?!
Mr. Somebody was the only one to complain, but dozens of readers liked the pitch enough to upgrade this weekend — Christmas weekend! (There were 27 orders on Christmas Day alone! Wow!) Plus quite a number of lapsed subscribers who used the opportunity to come back.
But Mr. Somebody is right about one thing: this publication does actually depend on fools — the people we write about to amuse and enlighten the readers who Get It. So, thanks, Mr. Somebody, for stepping up to offer yet more fodder to entertain the smart folks! That raises you up ever so slightly from a Nobody.
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It’s absolutely true that direct reader support is what keeps True running. If you like the stories, appreciate the stimulation to think, and want double the stories every week, the way to do it is to upgrade to a Premium subscription. Information on your options is here.
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This page is an example of Randy Cassingham’s style of “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. His This is True is an email newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition in an entertaining way. If that sounds good, click here to open a subscribe form.
To really support This is True, you’re invited to sign up for a subscription to the much-expanded “Premium” edition:
Q: Why would I want to pay more than the regular rate?
A: To support the publication to help it thrive and stay online: this kind of support means less future need for price increases (and smaller increases when they do happen), which enables more people to upgrade. This option was requested by existing Premium subscribers.