The email I'm about to share with you is the kind of email that makes me want to throw my hands in the air and say "I give up. I'm done. Why am I bothering??"
As a preface, many of you know that I maintain several websites and blogs. For anyone interested, the complete list of my 20 blogs and websites is on my About Lorine page.
My main website is Olive Tree Genealogy which I started in 1996. One of my blogs is Ask Olive Tree, where I try to help readers with their challenging research puzzles. At no time in the 17 years I've had a website online have I ever charged anything to view the content I have transcribed and published. All content on all my sites and blogs is free. Ask Olive Tree blog is one of the free services I offer.
So I'm pretty busy bringing free content online and trying to help other genealogists as much as I can. I happily give up my own time to do this. I have to get the content, then transcribe or index it. I have to maintain the sites, fix broken links and so on. And having been online the past 17 years makes me an official internet dinosaur!
I don't talk about the financial aspect much but I also spend my own money to acquire content to publish for free. And of course, I pay for my webhosting and other incidental expenses out of my own pocket.
I'm not whining about my workload or asking for applause or sympathy, just setting the scene so my readers understand why the email I received today annoyed and bothered me so much. I get emails like these once in awhile, and usually I just sigh and shake my head in disbelief, but this one managed to push me over the edge.
In his first email this person wrote to Ask Olive Tree blog and demanded (not asked - demanded) to know why I do not have any ships passenger lists online sailing from England to Virginia between 1635 and 1700 on my Olive Tree Genealogy website. I would think a little common sense and reading my articles about ships passenger lists to USA might give him some guesses why..... here's a few answers that come to mind immediately:
1. I am lazy and didn't feel like putting any online (not likely but it's an option as an answer)
2. I ran out of money and/or time to transcribe them and put them online (very possible)
3. My health prevents me from working on my sites as much as I'd like to (that's true)
4. I have a life outside of genealogy and the internet (some would disagree with this but it really is true)
5. Before 1825 ships passenger lists to USA didn't have to be kept. So finding any for this earlier time period is a bonus as very few exist. (Bingo!)
That email was a tad irritating to me but his followup email was the one that got me. Here it is
if Olive Tree can only partially answer queries - why would I what to pay and join Olive Tree to begin with ? If you guys don't have a clue like you said you did and can't help find the answers to my questions- why should I sign up?I'm sure my readers have instantly spotted the huge misconceptions this dude has about me and my site. But let's break it down to the errors and the demands found in his email:
1. "partially answer queries"?? I cannot respond to every query that comes my way. I'd need 72 hours in the day and no down time with family and friends
2. "Pay"?? Where on any of my sites do you find me asking for money??? Oh, where I sell my books. But you aren't asking to buy one of my books, you want me to answer your query. No charge for that buddy and I defy you to find where I say you have to pay me to help you.
3. "Join Olive Tree"? What the heck are you talking about? Where do I have anything on my sites that says you have to "join" ???
4. "You guys"?? What "guys"?? There's just ME. One person. And what's with this "don't have a clue" Gosh I consider myself fairly knowledgeable but I freely admit I do not know the answer to every single genealogy question that comes my way!
5. "Sign up"?? For what? Again, where do you find something on my sites or blogs that requires you to "sign up" for my free services or my free content!
Phew. I feel better now. I needed to vent and I hope my readers understand that sometimes - rarely but once in awhile - I need to share my frustration with you. Thanks for listening and please don't send me emails telling me if I don't like what I'm doing and can't take the heat I should give it all up.
Because as much as I sometimes feel like throwing in the towel when I see emails like the one this morning, I love doing this. And I love meeting (albeit virtually) my readers and site visitors and interacting with them. Thanks for listening. I think my blood pressure is slowly returning to normal.