Monday, December 17, 2001

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS I thought that posting a FAQ might answer some people's questions and cut down on my email load a bit. Anyway, following are answers to some questions that I hear, er, get by email, a lot.

How do you write so much? Are you some sort of weirdo?

Maybe. At least, for my whole life people have been asking the rhetorical question, "You're not like other people, are you?" No, I'm not. I'm not actually a compulsive writer, as I can take vacations, etc., and not feel any gnawing need to be at the computer. But I'm probably not far from that, which is a good thing in my line of work. Also, with always-on Internet connections at home and office, it's easy for me to take five minutes to post a thought that occurs to me. Usually I'm multitasking -- writing something longer, like a law review article, dealing with email, talking on the phone, etc. -- as well.

If I email you, will you publish it?

Maybe. If you don't want it published, put "Please Don't Publish This" in a conspicuous place. Do that with any email you don't want published -- don't expect me to remember what you said last time, as I get hundreds of emails a day. If you really, really, really don't want it published, don't send the email. That's a good piece of advice anywhere. I don't try to make people look bad, and I'll sometimes hold up on publishing something if it looks like it might get someone into trouble even if they don't say that. But don't count on me -- I'm a professor, and we're noticeably absentminded, and this is a hobby, not a Big Five accounting firm. Er, well, that cuts two ways of course. . . .

Why didn't you reply to my email? Do you have a bozo filter on me?

Hint: the people with "bozo filters" don't usually worry that they're the people with bozo filters. Nobody who's written to ask that is being filtered.

I'm getting several hundred emails a day, I think (I don't actually count, but it has to be close to that). I read all of them, except for the ones offering to refinance my house, enlarge my penis, or introduce me to hot teen babes, all services that I find unnecessary. I reply when I can. If I don't it's either because yours was one of twenty and I was in a hurry (if I don't reply on the spot, it quickly becomes lost in the shuffle), or because it contained a virus or other error that makes replying doubtful, or because you seemed, well, a little weird. There aren't many of those -- my tolerance for weirdness is pretty high -- but some people cross the line. I know from experience that you don't want to start an email back-and-forth with them.

Do you have Terms of Use?

Yes. Here they are.

What's with the whole Salon Sexwatch thing? And can you introduce me to Rachael Klein?

I used to love Salon, but it's gone steadily downhill and its lame "premium" service is not only annoying but probably stupid business, too. But somehow, reading their "sex advice" column and finding no sex just seemed to crystallize it all. Since it runs on Tuesday, and so does Rachael Klein's column in the Daily Cal, which I was reading to keep up on Berkeley shenanigans, the contrast just seemed natural. Klein's columns are good, but no, I can't introduce you. I don't know her, although we've exchanged emails a couple of times (she assures me she's much more attractive in person than in the photo that accompanies her column, though I can't vouch for this since I haven't met her and most likely never will). And, yes, I really have gotten emails asking for an introduction.

But hey, that's just a tribute to her column. Nobody's writing asking for introductions to Cary Tennis, author of the lame Salon column, after all. And I'm not really kidding when I say that Salon should hire her; God knows she's better than what they've got. At the moment, the Cal has quite a stable of good student columnists, in fact -- I've quoted some others occasionally. Salon should probably hire 'em all. Perhaps some other webzine will get smart and start raiding student papers for low-cost talent; there's certainly plenty of room at the top.

How do you get so much traffic?

Beats me. Other than emailing a few journalist-types early on, I've done nothing to promote InstaPundit; it's all been a function of links and word-of-mouth. Well, word-of-email, anyway. It's just the magic of the Internet. The biggest sources of readers are probably Virginia Postrel and James Taranto's "Best of the Web," for which I'm deeply appreciative.

Aren't you biased to the left? Aren't you biased to the right? Aren't you a jingoistic, libertarian, cultural imperialist?


Will you link to my blog?

Probably. Whenever I get around to it.

Can you make it so when I click on the links they open in a new window?

Yes. But you can do that yourself. Just right-click and select "open in new window" on Netscape or Explorer -- or whatever the equivalent is.

While I'm at it, a surprisingly large number of people don't know how to use the "find in page" feature that most browsers have. Control-F, or clicking on "Edit" and selecting "find" will let you search for an individual word on a page. It's very useful, but I'm amazed how many people don't know about it.

Why don't you set up a searchable archive?

Because I don't have time. I'll get to it. I'd like to have one myself, since it's getting harder to find old posts to link back to them.

Why don't you have lots of other features?

See above. My HTML skills are modest, my Java skills are somewhere between pitiful and nonexistent, and what few other programming skills I possess are woefully obsolete (can you say "FORTRAN?"). Plus, since what attracts people to InstaPundit is its content (it can't be much else, can it?) I try to put my time and effort into, well, content. Other stuff is on the back burner.

Are you as good-looking as your picture?

No. Unlike Rachael Klein, I am not as good looking as my picture. Well, I prefer to think that I look exactly like that picture, and that it's an unfortunate coincidence that most of the other pictures of me make me look like a hopeless geek. But it's possible that I'm wrong about that.

Why don't you say more about your family?

First, I don't really think that people come here to read about my family. This isn't one of those day-in-the-life blogs, and I don't think many people care. Also, since my wife is a forensic psychologist who specializes in murderous loonies, and since I write disrespectful things about Islamic terrorists and Nazis, I prefer to skimp on the personal detail. If you're into personal detail, Caterina Fake and a host of others will take care of that for you, and they probably lead more interesting lives than I do anyway.

What do you think of the new BT and Groove Armada releases?

Both disappointing. BT, in particular, is so much better than his remixers that there's just no point. What were the Plump DJs thinking?