Friday, 28 March 2014
Crabby Old Lady, Books and Blog Spam
When this blog started up a decade ago, nobody cared about or wanted to know anything about old people.
As Crabby Old Lady has often explained, back then pretty much everything about aging in the popular press, academia, television and movies was, when it was mentioned at all, devoted to disease, debility and decline.
The amount, if not the theme, changed in what felt like an instant when the media realized in 2006 that the oldest baby boomers were turning 60 that year and they had a new (to them), vast, untapped audience for information about getting old.
Well, “information” - if you define the word as useful – is a overstatement. In Crabby's experience, about 95 percent of everything written about elders and aging - especially the Niagara of new book titles that clutter Crabby's inbox - is drek.
What has happened, as far as Crabby can tell, is that anyone who is age 40 or so and older seems to believe that he or she is an expert on aging and therefore has a right to be paid for those observations.
To make that bad news worse, the few newbie writers who might have something interesting to add to the conversation about getting old are mostly hampered by poor writing skills. Crabby would be embarrassed to recommend most of their books to you.
Then there are the professional writers who, although they can write more engagingly, have little to add about what it's like to get old that we don't already know. Too often, their books are quickies meant to cash in on the aging boomer phenomenon.
And all that is not to mention the endless stream of books about how to stay young forever. (Regular readers know how Crabby Old Lady feels about that subgenre.)
All of the above is the reason you see only half a dozen books a year mentioned on this blog. Crabby does not “review” books. She sees no point in telling you, dear readers, why you should not spend money on a book and it saves her from finishing the truly awful ones.
But that is only prelude to what Crabby is here to say today. The real reason is that it's been a bad couple of weeks at Time Goes By for comment spam of a specific type. It eats up too much of Crabby's time. It makes her not want to read email in the morning. It makes her want to walk away from the computer and ignore her blog. It is a terrible thing to ruin someone's pleasure.
Many of you will recall that too often in past months, your legitimate comments have not posted. The cause was a difficulty with spam filters at the blog host, Typepad, and it took them nearly a year to repair the problem. It has now been a month of smooth sailing with only real spam caught in the filters. Hurray.
In its place, however, TGB is being plagued with a different sort of spam – book authors who leave what could otherwise be deemed a legitimate comment but then they append the name of their book, sometimes a sentence or two of promotional language and link to the purchase page.
Now in case you have not noticed, Time Goes By is an advertising-free zone. Deliberately so.
Many years ago, she tried advertising but it was more work than the low revenue justified. Unless a website gets half a million or more page views a day, nobody pays much for ads and although TGB traffic is, gratifyingly, several thousand page views a day and growing - quite successful for a personal blog - it is miles away from enough to make the work of carrying ads worth the administrative effort.
So Crabby absorbs the cost of running Time Goes By which amounts to a few hundred dollars a year – cheap enough for the pleasure she gets from the writing and the terrific community that has developed here.
Back to the book spammers. For no reason Crabby can discern, there has been an annoying upsurge in their number this month – the professionals and the amateurs. Crabby reads every comment left on Time Goes By and as soon she sees a spam comment, she kills it.
In the case of the book spammers (not one of whom has ever commented before), Crabby has taken to emailing them a terse but polite explanation of the reason their comment, or part of it, has been deleted.
About half the spammers write back to say, “oh my, I didn't realize that you would object. I am so sorry. I just wanted people to know about my wonderful book,” etc. etc.
Crabby's calling bullshit on that. Would the same people have the nerve to paste an advertising poster on the front of Crabby's home? On the windows of the local supermarket or Walmart?
That is what they are doing by trying to sneak a free ad for their book in the comments. In any other form it is called theft and it infuriates Crabby Old Lady.
What makes it sad is that if any of these writers had emailed to tell Crabby about the book and ask if she were interested, it's possible that it would become a TGB selection. Unlikely but possible and anyway, it is the right thing to do instead of trashing up Crabby's website.
Okay, Crabby's had her say and if you stuck around to the end, she is flabbergasted since it is not a stretch to label this post itself a kind of spam. Crabby's excuse is that there has been so much awful writer spam it cast out any other thoughts from her head.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Carl Hansen: Before Nail Guns Were Invented