...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Common courtesy - a rant
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I admit to having a bias. (ok, having 2,934 of them). This one is about websites and anonymity. And wasting peoples’ time.

I totally understand needing filters – whether it’s having an email address that filters through a web person or using a separate “contact” page, and writing it out so the robots don’t get you. I understand not giving away your personal email address if you’re doing business on the web.

What I don’t understand is not identifying yourself in SOME way. I don’t know why having a NAME to write it, or an explanation as to WHO is DOING this, is so freaking difficult. All the websites I write for, for example, clearly say “who we are” and talk “about us” so you know. But there are so many VAGUE websites out there. And you don’t know who is in charge, who you might be writing to, anything. I like to know that there is a Real Person there.

What I also don’t understand is having an email site for “having problems? Write to us” that never ever ever ever ever gets a response. But that’s a different rant – but a real one.

So recently I spend a few hours cruising the net to try to ensure that websites that list mystery conventions would have Left Coast Crime 2007 up. There are lots of them and some of them, of course, I know – the magazne news sites, the organization sites. Some I don’t and bless ‘em – a library site I found. Then there are the murky ones. And it gets murkier.

I find a website. I remember it from years ago but it never had what I wanted, was awkward to get around in, so I haven’t been back in years. It’s just CHOCK full of ads. Ads for Mystery Guild, as for games, ads for “gift of the month club” and the “entertainment” book (for 2005- someone want to drop a hint?) . Flashing and blinking and ads and ads and ads. And no names.

But links. Links and links to Oh yeah, link to some author’s name and you can “buy at amazon” Titles in some author’s series that are from 2000 or are 3 books ago. But you can buy it At amazon. Are you sure you don’t want to join the mystery guild?

But I wanted to list my convention. So I wrote as suggested. The email bounced. I found a second email. It bounced. FINALLY I wrote the only other email – the one for essentially advertising. And got back after a day or so an inquiry asking what other emails I had tried and what could X do for me.

Still no name no identification, no name. So I wrote back and said “I was curious – the site does not seem very active but I wanted to list my convention.”

It’s been five days. But I sure can join the Mystery book club or buy Hooked on phonics or find listings of writers’ groups on the site.

I resent it. I resent that this website is apparently a thin excuse for the anonymous owner to convince all these people to invest ad revenue in this site which has not been updated for 2 or 3 years – authors listed are woefully out of date and the convention listing is inadequate and incomplete – not including websites, not including most major events. There are better – far better – sites for finding authors, whether it’s cluelass or stop you’re killing me or whatever. Or googling. Period.

I resent that the con listing can’t even be gotten right – It’s Alexander McCall SMITH, not Alexander McCall. Not attention to detail or concerns about getting things accurately posted.

I’m sure it is a tiny amount of money. But my friends who are authors? They’re told “we advertise your books on the web”. Is this was it meant? The publicity folks at the publishers don’t have time to look at this stuff but what a total waste of time. And money.

There’s apparently a community – apparently they even got together but get togethers posted there are 5 years old. They seem totally unfamiliar with the wider world of mystery. They don’t talk about conventions, or even books very much, no mention of publications, or much outside of “oh, I really like him too!” Author discussions abound, at least there are lots of NAMES listed, but many stopped in 2003. Or 1999, and I guess were just left there.

There are people asking “I like Sherlock Holmes, what should I read?” Although having someone suggest Agatha Christie and the Dortnumders in the same post makes me wonder who these people ARE. It’s frustrating to see this sort of WASTE and that’s how I see it. NOT that I am saying everyone should be on DL, or post on Deadly Pleasures but oh my god. Just a week any number of mailing lists which abound and always have a mix of new and experienced readers and you’d have dozens of intelligent suggestions. Just a week over on any of the fan-run bulletin boards or sites or mailing list and you’d get suggestions for where to find a book other than “go check Amazon”..

I just don’t get it. What don’t I get? Why these people have been hung out to dry. Yes this is a resource, but the person in charge is not maintaining it, and can’t as far as I can see, even offer ME the common courtesy of saying “hi my name is X. Sure I’ll list your convention.” It’s my recollection that this website used to be well run but my recollection is about someone else running it who’s no longer involved.

There is one useful page written by, I think, that person who used to be affiliated with the site – it’s substantially out of date. (among other things, it still lists the historical mystery society with Sue Feder’s email.)

Oh but then there are the strange trolls. And the one who came to the site because she had a report due on the author the next day and wondered why no one was ever there. That thread is so bizarre, full of “whassup homies” that I wonder how ANYone got there. But no one cleaned it out or up - so why WOULD anyone go back?

And I know that this person who runs the site claims that this is an award-winning website. Okay. Wonder what award it won and when? Meanwhile, he cannot be bothered to respond to me and 2 of his 3 email addresses do not work. But not a page can be found without “buy buy buy buy buy” on it.

It makes me SO appreciative of the good guys out there.

Man rudeness just sucks, don’t it?

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