Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Cautionary Tale of Dealing with People


Dear Friends,

First of all, I want to thank all of my regular readers for making my blog a success. And as for my book, I will never be able to thank you enough for your support and encouragement. Many of you pushed and prodded me into doing my book, and I thank you for that.

I started this blog in December of 2010. At the time, a good friend wanted to know what I planned to write about on my "little blog"? I told him that I wanted to write about things that interest me. He laughed and said, "You mean others?" And I replied, "I think what interests me might also interest others." 

I want to thank all of you for the more than 3 Million visits to my "little blog." I am truly humbled and flattered by your interest in the things that also interest me.

As for my cautionary tale? Well, that has to do with some of you asking why a few articles you've read and want to share with others are no longer available here? In fact, I was recently asked about my article on Indian Treaties and the Ponca Indians, about a couple of my Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp posts, some of my archived political commentaries, as well as a few others which are now unavailable here. 

There are a few reasons why some of my archived stories are being removed. While most of that has to do with my doing another book, some of it has to do with limited space and old articles, and some of that has to do with dealing with people. Because I'm trying to put together a second book for publication, I have removed more than 70 Old West stories so far. I used 25 stories in Book I, and now some are going into my next book. 

As for limited space? I have a limited amount of space available to archive my articles. Because of that, I'm in the process of copying and archiving most of the more than 1,400 articles that I've posted in the last ten years. 

Because my blog has never been strictly about Old West history, I have published items of interest, including horse and cattle information, as well as ranch and farm news and political commentary. Some have been with my "by-line." Some were from others who sought a "by-line." Some articles have been published here directly from their source. 

What you, my readers, might not know is that the posts about ranch and farm news, and my political commentaries, actually make up most of the more than 1,400 articles that I've published on here. No, it's not my Old West stories. So now, because much of those news and commentary articles are now considered "old news" and are only taking up needed space, I'll be taking them off of here.

For example, I used to do a feature that I called "Random Shots" each week. In all honestly, I ran those articles as a way for me to let off steam over my frustrations with the Obama administration and some of the craziness in the news at the time. I stopped that weekly post toward the end of the Obama administration simply because they took a lot of work, and there was a lack of interest in them. 

It was about that time that I was focusing more and more on reporting what I've learned in the way of Old West history. I took note of the fact that my readers wanted to read more about why I found Wyatt Earp to be other than he was portrayed than hearing about why I think Obama was other than how he was portraying himself. Well, today, those articles take up a lot of space on here. So now I'm trying to archive those posts to disc. So with that, in the future -- they will be gone from here.

As for my Old West articles, I've published a lot of posts dealing with Old West history over the past ten years. My reasons why are pretty simple. I wanted to write about things that made me a lot of who I am. Like most of you, I grew up loving the cowboy way. My fondest memories were growing up on my grandfather's ranch, watching 1950s Hollywood television Westerns, and trying to emulate my heroes. 

What I learned as a kid, coupled with my being a U.S. Marine, has made me try to live by the Golden Rule of treating others as I want to be treated. The Cowboy Code itself goes to the heart of my belief in right and wrong, accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative, and having a "Can Do" attitude instead of being a defeatist as many are today. My love of the cowboy way has everything to do with making things work, even with very little, while trying to make things better. 

I found myself at a point a few years ago of wanting to write about the many historical places that I've visited for myself when I was working on the road and traveling around our great nation for so many years. I've written about history that I've researched for myself, and about people who I've found very interesting. Yes, some who were not that well known. Because of that, some of my stories are also about people I've found very interesting while researching other stories. 

Some of my stories started out as suggestions by you, my readers and friends who suggested that I look into this or that person or event, simply because they would be a good fit for my blog. There are some Old West stories on here about people who I only became acquainted with through television. Yes, I admit to the fact that I'm horrible when it comes to wanting to find out how much bullshit Hollywood is passing off as the truth. While I understand the difference between fiction and the truth, I hate it when I hear a self-proclaimed expert spin a tale about a historical figure that I know is all a fabrication at best. Or worse, just more regurgitation that can't be confirmed. 

Of course, I have become acquainted with some historical figures through other writers sending me information. Because I've received so many suggestions from other writers and you, I have over 400 articles in my draft files that I need to look into before doing something with them.

Here's a heads-up, below starts my cautionary tale! 

My friends, publishing a blog with stories by "associate writers" has been a double-edged sword and a real education of sorts. No, not always for the best. At first, I liked publishing others because I saw it as a win-win situation. I saw it as an opportunity for them, especially since they went out of their way to ask to be a part of this blog. I also figured that it would benefit me since I'd have more time to do research while also doing what needs to be done around my home, especially my getting more time when it comes to caring for rescue horses. That wasn't the case. 

As for people sending me their work and wanting it published here, at first, I figured the reasons for that were fairly easy to understand. I was told by some writers that they wanted a "ready-made audience," even a small audience as mine is just for exposure and to field their work. Some who became "associate writers" wanted a place to post their work simply for the sake of exposure and the ability to list The Americans Cowboy Chronicles in their credits -- or so they said. Some of them told me that they felt if their articles "hit" big and gained a following, then it would be easier for them to start their own website or blog with at least some following to get started. 

Since they knew there was no money involved, and they knew that I wasn't paying for their material, I figured what harm would it do. Remember, this is a free blog, and they knew that. Besides, in all honesty, I couldn't see anything wrong with allowing other writers to post here as long as it didn't go against what I wanted on my blog. What I mean by that is that I wasn't going to allow a writer to use my blog as a place to spread any sort of anti-American propaganda, anything that promoted criminal activity, anything that promoted hate, used profanity, that sort of thing. Factual information might be hard to swallow, but I don't see that as hate-speech.  

What resulted was my having to stop publishing the works of almost everyone except one "associate writer" who is a great friend. This happened because I learned that I couldn't trust others to be honest.  

For example, more than a few writers sent me their work with letters stating how they would appreciate the exposure and "by-line" credit. Later, after my readers' complaints, I found out that those associate writers simply wanted to make money by selling advertising in their articles. I found out later that their articles were laced with advertising programming.

I wouldn't have known what was going on if it weren't for my readers' complaints and a computer virus. At about the same time, my readers started complaining about my site being full of ads, ads that I was not running, and a computer virus in my blog editor that infected my own work. I was furious and baffled as to how to fix it. Then while trying to fix it, I found out that those "associate writers" were using an advertising program, a virus, attached to the stories they were sending me. Those "associate writers" were advertising things in their articles when they shouldn't have done so. After all, this is a free blog. I have never charged anyone to read what's here.

Well, it was worse than simply advertising because, as I said before, their advertising virus infected my computer and my own articles. Besides having to replace a couple of computers that cost me money, you'd be surprised at the number of articles that I had to delete because they were infected and I couldn't find a way to clean them. 

Also, at the time, I found that some advertisement programs violated my agreement with those writers regarding their posts. Some of those articles directed my readers to extremely offensive material. This is why many articles that were written by someone other than me are not around today.  

That brings me to another point about dishonesty. Over the years, I've gotten many stories suggested to me, both about American history and otherwise, from people wanting me to publish stories with me as a joint venture. While some wanted to do a joint by-line, others didn't want recognition for one reason or another. There were a few people who sent me information but didn't want their names used. 

Friends, because I had once provided articles as a freelance tech writer where I didn't care if my name was on something, I simply looked at it as just a matter of personal preference. Besides, since there was no money in it for either of us regarding my blog, I didn't see a problem.

In those joint articles, we both wrote parts of the article and shared our research and sources. In some cases, we worked together on the basic storyline. In others, I left the basic story to the person that I was working with while I did the conclusion and editing. If it was an article for my blog, I always did the final editing. 

As I said, there have been some who wanted their own "by-line." And yes, there have been some who said they didn't care to have their names used. So really, I didn't think anything of it. Either way, I still did the plagiarism check and the final editing. As many of my regular readers already know, my editing over the years has gotten better than it was -- but sadly, it's still not 100 percent because I still miss things.

In the ten years of doing this blog, I have been embarrassed twice when finding issues of plagiarism by "associate writers" in joint ventures. While plagiarism checkers are good, I have learned that they do miss things. In both cases, I trusted another writer to do his part honestly while I wrote the conclusions. And frankly, in both cases, I learned a lesson in trusting people when I shouldn't have. Both of those articles have been taken down. That's two stories in the last ten years. And really, that's two too many.

People would not be wrong at all to say that I was "naive" or simply "too trusting" back in those first years of publishing my blog. The fact is they'd be right. Fact is, I have to admit it, I had a bad habit of making the mistake of thinking writers were a lot more honest than they are. 

Because of what I've learned, there is only one "associate writer" whose work remains on this site. I posted his Old West articles and commentary regularly for a long time. While age tends to slow everyone down, and he has not been actively writing for a while, I enjoyed that old Cowboy's work. He is a trusted friend. That man is Terry McGahey. So really, other than my own posts, the stories that I'm removing for my new book, the two that I removed because of associate writers plagiarizing someone else's work, and those that I put here and had to remove to get rid of that virus, Terry's work will always be available in my archives.

As for this cautionary tale of dealing with writers, or people in general? As life is full of lessons, dealing with other writers has been a lesson learned. I thought I was getting great stories for my blog in what I saw as win-win situations, but it turned out to bite me in the end. Other than my old Cowboy friend whose work was always great to read, and honest as the day is long, I learned how dishonest other writers can be. 

Because of their greed and desire to use my blog to make money, it cost me money to buy new computers and I lost a few of my own articles in the process. Because of someone trying to take the easy route of copying someone's else work and representing it as their own, it was the second time that I learned an embarrassing lesson about trusting someone too much even when you have your suspicions that something wasn't right. By the way, my inability to contact him during the editing process when I had questions should have told me something wasn't right. As they say, live and learn.

I really should keep in mind that trusting others is a lot like horse-trading. While most of the time, buying and selling horses is really a win-win situation, folks should use some caution. For example, everyone should understand that there is no real such thing as a "free horse." After all, a free horse is not free since it costs to care for them -- sometimes after you get them home and realize that they came with many problems. And think about it, why would someone get rid of a horse for free? Usually, it means it has more problems than Hogan's Goat. 

As for the horse buyer? A person buying a horse always wants a seller to ask a lot less than what the horse is really worth. It's pretty naive for a buyer to think that a seller will do that, but buyers can always hope that's the case. In the case of most of the associate writers that I've dealt with, they weren't worth the trouble that I went through dealing with them. Frankly, it should have been as obvious as that road sign above -- if I really thought about it. 

As for a seller? A person selling a horse always wants more than a horse is worth -- and certainly more than what a buyer wants to pay. Sellers always hope that's the case. Really unscrupulous sellers pray for trusting buyers that they can take advantage of. Sadly, there are people like that in the world.   

And while horse traders are always told that we buy a horse "as is," we should keep in mind that the law says a horse is sold not "as is" but in actuality "as represented." That means that sometimes what we buy "as is" -- may not be what was represented to us at the point of sale. That's illegal. Anyone who has been cheated into buying a drugged horse at an auction has learned that lesson the hard way. And yes, my friends, even the most experienced horse trader gets took now and then. 

Tom Correa






1 comment:

  1. Hi, Tom, God bless you and hope you and yours are doing wonderfully. Thanks for a good piece of writing. I haven't been around here all that long and didn't know you had such a lengthy time of writing. It's good to learn about you, and I'd say your logic is right on this subject, for sure. Wish you all the best!

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