Readers are welcome and encouraged to email me for the following reasons:
1. To send me a news tip or item of interest. I like and appreciate getting tips from readers, and you needn't worry about potentially being the second or third or eighteenth or hundredth person to send me the same link. If I get lots of emails about something, it just conveys to me that there's lots of interest in reading about/discussing it. (Don't forget to include your Disqus handle, if you've got one.) Please note I occasionally pass on an item to another contributor who is interested in covering it. Also: I do get lots of tips in a day, so please understand that I cannot respond personally to every email.
2. To inquire about writing or submitting a guest post on a specific subject, with the caveat that if your subject matter violates our content policy, or if you are trying to use a guest post to promote a product or service, don't even bother. (Guest posting about a book one has written on a subject of general interest to Shakers, for example, is an obvious exception.) Whether I accept and publish guest posts has a lot to do with whether I have the opportunity for editing that day: Getting a guest post in shape for publication often takes a lot of time. If you send an email as vague as, "How can I guest post at Shakesville?" or an email requesting something like, "Check out my blog and see if there's anything you would be willing to use as a guest post," your email will be deleted.
3. To seek help or guidance locating social, medical, or related services. If you are having thoughts of self-harm or are having any other kind of immediate crisis, do not email me—call 911. If, however, you need help finding a very specific kind of local service (e.g. a survivor's advocate) or a local healthcare practitioner who is known to be fat-friendly or trans-friendly, as examples, I will do my utmost to help you locate what you need, or put you in contact with someone who might be able to help.
4. To solicit advice on a personal issue. I get tons of email asking for advice on everything from blogging tips to how to break up with a long-term partner. I genuinely try to answer every one of these emails, but, as my email load ever increases, there are just some emails I regretfully never get to. This is, I realize, not the fairest policy, but it's the best I can do: Emails soliciting advice are welcome, but please send them with the knowledge I may not be able to get to them. In acknowledging my reality and my limitations, I recommend that if you would be offended if I do not answer, don't send it.
5. To send a note of encouragement or thanks. I am so grateful for each note of support I receive, and nothing is a better motivator to do this job every day than when people take the time to tell me how much Shakesville means to them, or how it has made a material difference in their lives. Again, I try to reply to every one of these emails, but sometimes I may miss one on a very busy day, for which I offer my apologies.
6. To alert me to a mistake (typographical or factual) in a post, especially if you are, by virtue of being at work or similar circumstance, unable to leave a note in comments.
7. Media and reprint inquiries.
That's not a comprehensive list, of course. Sometimes people just have a random question or a funny story or a happy thing to share, the sorts of emails that don't fall neatly into any kind of category.
Basically, the general rules are: Be sensible and polite; be understanding that I make a good faith effort to respond to everyone who reaches out to me in good faith, although I simply can't respond to everyone anymore; be aware that reaching out with an expectation that I will respond, and/or respond in precisely the way you want, is not good faith.
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Readers are unwelcome to email me for the following reasons:
1. To complain about being banned, as is clearly stated in the commenting policy. Complaining about someone else being banned is also unwelcome. Generally, any grievances about moderation after a flagrant breach of the commenting policy will be ignored and deleted.
2. To continue a thread derail that has been declared off-limits, unless I have specifically invited further discussion to be brought to my inbox. Yes, I get that you want to talk about That Thing SO BAD. But if I wanted to talk about it, I'd create a space to talk about it on my blog. Find someone else to talk to.
3. To solicit a personal fundraiser for you (or someone else). It's not that I don't want to help, but I very likely cannot vet and verify your situation and need, nor can I accommodate everyone who asks.
4. To demand explanations for blog policies, blog-related issues, and variations on that theme. I don't owe this to you.
5. To demand an accounting of how I spend donations. I also don't owe this to you—but here's the big secret: I spend my salary like everyone else does. I pay bills, I pay taxes, I buy shit, most of which I need and some of which I don't.
6. To yell at me for not having sent a personal response to another email. I can't stress this enough: Posting my email publicly and saying I try to respond to as many emails as I can is not a promise that I will correspond with you. Don't treat it like it is.
7. To try to bully or coerce or shame me into writing about something, or write about something in the very specific way you want me to write about it.
8. To threaten or harass me.
Again, that's not a comprehensive list. I know it's a fool's game to tell the sort of people compelled to email me just to tell me I'm a fat cunt to use good judgment, so instead I'll just note that you're wasting your time. You're also wasting your time if you send me a wall of text 'splaining to me how wrong I am about something. I seek out opinions differing from my own from writers I respect: Your 2,000-word all-caps screed does not qualify.
There are many occasions when I will have a discussion via email with someone who is in strong disagreement with me, or even pissed off with me about something I've said or done, but if your email is a nasty, accusatory, bad faith rant showing no indication that you actually want to have a conversation with me, as opposed to just making me feel shitty, I'm not going to engage with you. And, no, if you send me a more reasonable email two hours or two days or two weeks later, I'm not going to engage with you then, either. If you have a point about something I could do better or differently, I will take your point, but I will absolutely not engage with someone who disrespects or bullies me.
These are my boundaries. I politely and firmly ask that they be respected.