A kind invitation; or a hard-faced attempt to loot?

I get a lot of emails.  Most are very welcome.  But I’ve never had an email like the ones I received this morning.

From: Ambrose Adriano
Subject: Roger Pearse’s blog contact form: Interested in merging Tertullian.org with Patristics.co?

Hey Roger,

First of all, thank you for all the content you’ve done. I can only imagine how long it took. I am the creator of www.patristics.co, and I was wondering if you wanted to join forces and merge your content onto my site. I have great aesthetics, but I am lacking in time and resources when it comes to uploading content. I would love to work with you, since we seem to have the same heart for the church fathers. Anyway, I just thought I’d ask.

-Ambrose

Well that’s a very kind invitation, of course.  Mr Adriano has created an empty website with some graphics; would I care to fill it with content?  My first reaction was to write back “Write your own damn content”.  But of course I get offers of collaboration from well-meaning people, which are sometimes clumsily expressed, and one must be polite.

But then I thought … “content”?  I don’t write “content”.  I write stuff for people to use.  “Content” is what a professional might call it.  This… this does not feel like a well-meaning amateur.

Sadly I was unable to think of any reason why I should donate my website with a mass of intellectual property to a complete stranger, and work at his direction, so I replied:

Hi Ambrose,

That’s an interesting email.  But I’m actually very happy doing my own thing, you know?  🙂

Good luck with your project.

That should have been the end of it.  But Mr Adriano – the name on the email was now “Garry Adriano” – was not finished, and wrote this:

Alright, I’ll make one last pitch then I’ll leave you alone Roger 😉

I understand that it would probably be uncomfortable to make such a big change, and it’s much easier to go with business as usual. However, are you really happy with “your” thing? Don’t you want to broaden your vision and make this about more than just you? I have a vision, and my heart is for educating the common man (through beauty) instead of just being a resource that scholars use occasionally.

If you’re afraid that you’d lose autonomy, I’m not interested in controlling you. You have the freedom to do what you already do, and you wouldn’t have to pay for hosting.

I have thousands of visitors with a rejuvenated love for the content, and it’s always growing. People do not want the past, they want the future, and this is what I am trying to give them. I will pray that you would one day reconsider and see me as being an opportunity for your own increase, rather than bury your talent in the sand merely because it happens to be yours.

“I have a vision….” is very eloquent, isn’t it?  And, despite having no content, he already has “thousands of visitors”.  Note the absence of mention of copyright, tho.

But funnily enough neither email actually shows any interest in the “content”.  That’s of no importance, plainly.  That “email” reads like boiler-plate.  If you wanted to get some gullible amateur to hand over their content to you, on some random subject, so that you could monetise it and make money, you might have such a letter on file, usable for any subject.

Perhaps I’m over-wary, but this really made me nervous.  The internet was once a network of people giving generously of their time and knowledge to the world. In some places it still is.  Today there are plenty of sites which purport to advise the reader on how to get rich quick by creating a blog or a website.  It seems we have a population of takers, rather than givers, attempting to take advantage.

I have no idea who Mr Adriano might be.  But perhaps others will receive his eloquent emails also.  Falling in with his requests might not be in their best interest.

Let the website author beware.  Caveat auctor.

UPDATE: A fresh email this evening.

Your blog post is very sad, inaccurate, and filled with assumptions about my intent, but if you wish to immediately judge and publicly mock people you don’t know, that’s between you and God. I did not even bring money into the conversation. That was your assumption.

The good news for you is, I don’t really care about your opinion of me. The bad news is, God does.

Oh dear.

19 thoughts on “A kind invitation; or a hard-faced attempt to loot?

  1. It looks very much like those spams “Publish with us in the next few days… provided you can afford a few hundreds of $£Euros”. Sad stories

  2. The way that 2nd letter ended tells me the guy is quick to judge. Mr Pearse, if i were to try to get you to do a similar thing with my blog, I at least would want to Skype you, meet from a distance, work out ideas and details in a grand and sweeping discussion before styling you as “bury[ing] your head in the sand.” Boom. Turned off.

  3. All your posts are well referenced, almost dare I say “scholarly”. This gentleman could of course do his work from your references and call it his own, but then he would have to do his own work.
    Threats of divine retribution for not doing his work for him? He should have cited the biblical passage on that.

    Your blog is a pleasure as is.

  4. ‘”People do not want the past, they want the future” – and that’s why I’m offering them Patristics (?!), or would be, if I weren’t “lacking in time and resources”…’

    I’d say, ‘the more the merrier – do what you can with whatever time and resources you do have – and add sites showing “the same heart for the church fathers” to a list of “Interesting links”.’

    I’m grateful for your site in every form I’ve encountered it over the years, and it sure does not seem to me that that one talent which is death to hide lodges with you useless – far from it!

  5. Thank you both. I’m always glad to have more sites at work – the more the merrier! It’s open to all.

    I did enjoy the attempt to claim that God was telling me to hand over my site to him.

  6. I think your correspondent has discovered, rather late in life, that old saying that goes, “content is king.” Sure it’s nice to have pretty pictures and lovely graphics with a few gizmos, but an empty shell is an empty shell.

  7. And your blog has very fine content, Roger. I hope all your readers regularly tell you how much they appreciate you and your “work” here. I certainly do. THANK YOU.

  8. I still remember a few years back I was trying to find out the date for the manuscripts of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus’ Meditations. It was exceedingly frustrating. Then while searching I came across one of your blog posts and you had exactly the information I needed. I couldn’t help but think “Why didn’t I check Roger’s pages first?” as I scribbled some notes into my hard copy of the Loeb edition of Meditations (which does not include the date for the manuscripts). Quite often you have the most informative information and the most helpful links of any other site I check.
    Your work is appreciated greatly, Roger. Thank you. The content is terrific and easily accessible.

  9. Hello Roger, I am a prince from Nigeria with a great sum of gold I’m looking to put somewhere …

    On the serious side of things, what are your thoughts about putting all your stuff in the public domain at some point or another? I

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