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July 16, 2006

"Bitchy Bartender:" Why I'm An Asshole With Thank Yous

A reader wrote this:


Why is it that every time I send Jeff Goldstein some $$$, he sends me a "Thanks"-e-mail, but whenever I send you some monetary lovin you don't? Seriously, you'd be able to pay off the Val-U-Rite tab a lot easier if you just sent out a lame-o "Thanks" after someone coughed up a few sheckels.

You're like an awesome-but-bitchy bartender... The drink is good, the service is excellent, but you won't say "thanks" for the tip. WTF? I'll stay for the service, but will be less inclined to hit the tip-jar if it dosen't mean anything to you.

Your choice.


[name deleted]

Okay. This stung, and I deserved it. Here's what I wrote back, with a little additional stuff.

David, Have I never thanked you? I do apologize. There are a couple of reasons I don't thank everyone. First of all, bad manners. I try to give most people an individualized thank you, usually with a joke, and that turns into a long process. Then I end up putting off thank yous for a while, and then I put it off some more, and pretty soon I don't thank someone who is owed a thank you.

It's not that I give everyone their own thank you with their own joke. But I try to make up a new joke for every five or six people. For some reason I'm always thinking readers are comparing emails to make sure they're getting a truly individualized response. I feel bad about just saying "Thank you" or just writing one of the old thank-you note jokes that I figure I've sent people before, so I put off doing it, and the perfect (decently-long thank-yous with new jokes) winds up being the enemy of the good (just a quick thank-you without much else in the email).

This is profoundly stupid, I realize, as making any kind of money off this site relies upon readers' goodwill. Reader donations far exceed ad revenue, and therefore thanking people for donations should come before pretty much anything else. But I have a bad habit of just putting things off and off and off until they're never done at all.

There are a couple of things that make it hard to thank people though. PayPal notifies my yahoo account, which I rarely check. It's my gmail account I have open all day; I check the yahoo account once a week, tops.

And that gets very buried with spam email. Further, it gets buried with PayPal spam/scam email. The PayPal scammers are always asking you to enter your password to keep your account alive. These emails don't really come from PayPal, of course; they come from scammers who want the password to your account. The thing is, I get three or four fake PayPal emails for every one genuine one, and a lot of times legitmate PayPal notifications get buried among the fake ones. And the scammers seem to know when there's activity in the account, because as real PayPal notifications come in, so do a blizzard of fake ones, all demanding I immediately tell them my password to avoid disruptions in service.

Also, for some reason, when I search my yahoo mail for keywords indicating a payment -- paypal and notification, usually -- for some reason a fair number of donations are missed.

I'm really sorry you didn't get your proper thanks. I don't want to blame this all on "technical difficulties," as I admit the first reason -- putting stuff off -- is a major contributor. I do appreciate your contributions, though, and I'm sorry I've made you feel they were unappreaciated.

Please accept my apologies.



I really am sorry to those who didn't get thanked during the last donation drive. I know I got most people, but I know I missed a lot of people, too.

I do appreciate the donations. Basically, they pay for rent and food. Why I have this hang-up about just writing "Thanks a lot!" if I'm out of creative juice I don't know.

PS: An example of the fake PayPal "notifications." I get twenty or thirty of these a week, sometimes more.

Dear PayPal user ,

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the PayPal system.
We recently noticed the following issue on your account:

Our system requires further account verification.

Case ID Number: PP-132-378-817

For your protection, we have limited access to your account until additional security measures can be completed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

To review your account and some or all of the information that PayPal used to make its decision to limit your account access, please visit the Resolution Center.


If, after reviewing your account information, you seek further clarification regarding your account access, please contact PayPal by visiting the Help Center and clicking "Contact Us".

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We apologize for any inconvenience.

PayPal Account Review Department

PayPal Email ID PP522

The emails look like real PayPal emails, with their logos and trade-dress and all, but all of the links are scam-links. They look like they go to PayPal, but if you check the actual address, they're going somewhere else.

Again, this doesn't excuse my ingratitude. But there are a number of legimiate PayPal notifications that do get lost in the inundation of fake PayPal emails.

The Paranoia Factor: A lot of people also send me "Great job" emails, and I rarely reply to those. This isn't assholishness so much as paranoia.

Liz from Rightalk told me that if I send someone an email, they can figure out my exact address from the hidden headers in my email. Other people tell me that's not true, but I've had this worry about sending emails to people I don't know for a year.

That's why I refused to send Deb Frisch an email.

A year ago I guy sent me an email telling me he loved the site and wanted to send me $500. My paranoia told me this was a scam. So I eventually wrote back to the guy, but I did so via a computer at an internet cafee about fifteen blocks away from my house. I was still worried about this guy. Even though he sent me a half-g. You might think that would be enough to convince me of his bona fides, but to me, it just suggested He's willing to pay that much to get hold of your address.

(BTW, not many people send me that much money, obviously. I've had three or four donations at that level or higher.)

He turned out to be on the level. He did send $500 bucks. But even when he sent me the $500 bucks, I thanked him by going back to the internet cafe and writing my thank you from there.

If you've sent "Great blog, Ace!" type posts, and you didn't get a "Thanks," it's because I'm scared you're a lefty who just wants to hunt me down and eat me. I tend not to respond to people unless I recognize their name or handle from the comments.

digg this
posted by Ace at 05:17 PM

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