March 1st, 2008

ozarque figure

Personal lament, from My Wit's End...

I am residing at My Wit's End this morning, me and my alleged mind. I think I may feel better if I just have a monumental public hissyfit about it here; please feel free to move on to the next item on your flist if that doesn't appeal to you. I can well understand that it might not appeal to you.

For decades, I have been publishing various newsletters -- first in print form, then (from January 2000 on) by e-mail only. [Links to the four posts about the history of this newslettering are at .] Until recently, doing the newsletters by e-mail was, for me, a kind of magical activity. No making hundreds of copies and collating them and stapling them in the upper lefthand corner. No stuffing them into envelopes and stamping stuff on the envelopes and putting labels on the envelopes and sorting them for the bulk mail process. No hauling them to the post office. It was just a matter of writing the newsletters and pressing a couple of keys, and Shazam!, they were in my readers' computers! It was wonderful. It was bliss.

And then the cyberroof fell in on me. What happens now is that every other month I send out three newsletters -- each one in two parts -- and at least one of those six documents offends the Cybergremlins, gets misidentified as spam, and bounces. And then a comedy of errors starts. I get a batch of messages telling me that the document hasn't arrived and asking me to send it again. I do endless re-sendings. Sometimes people do then get the missing item; sometimes people get half a dozen of the missing item; sometimes the missing item never arrives, no matter what I do. This is driving me mad. My Wit's End is not a well-appointed residence with all the mod cons; it's all squalor and disarray. Dirt floor. Leaky roof. No indoor plumbing. Roaches and spiders. And ticks, of course; lots of ticks.

I've done everything that I'm supposed to do, so help me Providence. I used to put my headers in all capital letters; I've stopped doing that. I used to include information about how to subscribe; I've stopped doing that and now offer only a contact address for subscribing and unsubscribing. I've simplified the format to the point where I myself find it offensively spartan. I've been very careful to avoid including any sequences that have large dollar amounts (or large amounts in any other currency) in them. I never, never use any item that contains an obscenity. There are no ads of any kind. I've reminded everybody to be certain that my e-mail address has been added to whatever "approved" list their server provides. And I've stopped sending the newsletters to the entire mailing list all at once; I now save them as stationery and send them to only eight addresses at a time. And still... still... this isn't enough to satisfy the Powers That Be on the Internet. [Insert screams of anguish and head-bangings here, please.]

Last time this happened, I ended up having to divide up the rejected item into a set of brief segments that I sent out individually, one at a time, to everybody involved. And even then, there were still two subscribers for whom I finally had to print out copies of the missing segments and send them out in the post.

I am just about to the point where I admit that I'm whipped and send everyone a refund for all the issues remaining in their subscriptions, with a heartfelt apology. Not because I'm not willing to do all the re-sending and segmenting and whatnotting -- I'm more than willing to do that. But because this process has to be utterly infuriating for my subscribers, and they deserve better. They should not have to put up with all this hassle and confusion; that's not what they signed on for.

I have one more newsletter to send out this month, and I'm not sure I have the courage.

Thank you for listening. And for being there. And for being part of something that actually works.
ozarque figure

Personal note; testing....

I wanted to let you know what I'm about to do, so that you can ignore it if you like, and so that you won't be horrified. I have absolutely no conception of how much physical space on LJ the sections of my newsletter would take up, and I need to find out. Putting part of it behind a cut won't tell me how much space that is, so I'm just going to post the whole section. If it turns out to be enormous, I promise never to do it again.

This is a test. This is only a test.
ozarque figure

Personal note; I'm a klutz...

Well, I found out : That newsletter section (which is only half of the newsletter) is enormous. I know now how much physical space it takes -- way too much. I apologize to everyone on my flist , especially since (a) I now know that I could have specified it as "private" and you wouldn't have had to put up with it, and (b) I now know that I would still have been able to see the entire text even if I'd put it in an LJ cut.
ozarque figure

Personal note...

I did try to get an LJ cut to work in that newsletter -- five times -- but it failed every time. The only way I could think of to get it off people's flists was to delete it, and that does seem to have worked.