Monday, March 8, 2010

#82 Prison Sites: Endangered (retro)

Prison Sites: Endangered

It is almost 6pm as I get ready for some basketball. The NBA Channel has some NBDL games on, which is pretty cool. I think our state of NC had two teams, one in Jacksonville and one in Asheville, but I think we lost the Jacksonville one.

And since neither is ever on television anyway, they might as well be somewhere else… kinda sad when we can’t watch local basketball on television.

Again, I want to urge you to email me and ask about my books. You still have time to request one or more of my books or some cards and such before I put everything together by the end of the month. Email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com.

Oh, and I have found a format for my blog books! It seems to be a little tedious, but I found a way to put one together, and I am using my original blogs from 2005...something most of you have never seen. I mean, those of you finding my blogs now missed out on the over 500 I had before I started over. But even BEFORE that, I had a blog with over 100 blogs. That translates to a heck of a lot of blogs that I am going to be putting in a series of blog books.

I’ll tell you more about that in another blog, but please keep emailing me and asking me about my projects.

Anyway, I wanted to blog about one of the latest things to be put on the endangered list: prison support sites.

There used to be tons of them all over the internet when I was writing back from about 2002 to about 2005. There were numerous sites for those with loved ones in prison. I personally wrote for NUMEROUS sites, from the yahoo prison support sites to some prison ministries and other sites like Prisonforum, Prisonbid, Prisonsupport, Prisonville, Mothers with Sons in Prison, Prisoners of Love and many others.

There were so many back then that you might have sworn that there was a real swelling of help out there…but now they are dying off.

Prisonville is no longer on the web, and I remember getting an email months ago that they were going to shut down unless someone bought the site…I guess no one ever did.

Prisonsupport is hardly if ever on, and numerous yahoo prison support sites go belly up. Even some of the sites that are still up are like ghost towns because few to nobody is actively participating on those sites. You know something is wrong when I look at some of my older posts that have been read by 300-500 people, but nobody is making comments. Multiply that time about 30 of my posts and you get the idea.

Something is going wrong with prison support sites because there isn’t the participation that there used to be. Even one of the last ones I checked out, Prisonplace, seems to be as quiet as King’s Dominion in the middle of winter.

Why is that? It’s not like people stopped going to prison or jail, in fact there is more now than ever before. So what is going on and where are the people?

I think there are a few problems that can be identified, and I’d like to list a few: moderators, gossip, lack of information and money.

And people jumped on MY back whenever I talked about that last part…

I think the failure of so many of these sites is based on some of those characteristics, either one, some, all or extra characteristics. For example, I say MODERATORS is one because these are the so called “gate keepers” of the site.

Moderators are supposed to act as friendly associates and helpers, there to make sure the readers or visitors to the site are getting the help they need, while protecting the integrity of the site. The problem is too many of them have a stick stuck up their…


(fooled ya)

Case in point: In my experience of writing, one of the worst sites for prison issues is Prison Talk Online. Many of the moderators are people that I would never think about talking to because they are such a jerk.

People like that can clear out a room in a hurry, and sit there thinking that it’s everyone else’s fault. I ran into a couple like that, one in the NC forum and one in the husbands and boyfriends in prison forum…

Total jerks.

And the funny thing is that they don’t add a bit to the site. They turn more into prison guards than helpful moderators.

This is why several sites go belly up; the owners of some of these sites use it as a status symbol, making themselves a god to anyone who sets foot on their site. And while I can certainly respect a person for maintaining their site, you lose it when you act like Hitler.

It’s funny because some of the most ignorant people on prison support sites, some of the ones who know the least, are some of those moderators.

Another reason for the failure of some of these sites is GOSSIP. I just don’t understand why people think that prison SUPPORT sites are about ripping news off the AP wire and rehashing it by copy and paste.

If I am a dad with a son in prison for the first time, I don’t give a damn about some news about prison…I want to know if my son is going to be ok, and how I can help him.

If I am a wife with a husband in prison, I don’t give a damn about a prison riot, I want to know what my husband is walking into, and how I can get through it.

Most people are not finding these sites to “catch up on the news”, they are looking for support. How much support are you giving by talking about how many guys got stabbed in the prison system last year, or how many got raped. What kinda support are YOU sending?

And let me bear fangs for a minute…

Just because you can copy and paste news like that does NOT make you an expert of prison. There are lots of folks on sites like Prison Talk that sit there and copy and paste news articles and think they are an expert…no, all you are is a reader, no different from anyone else. The fact that you copied and pasted the article required no individual thought to begin with.

If you do want to share info, that is fine, but why don’t you just read it first, then write an article based off what you read? The writing you do will allow you to give your views in your own intellect, rather than taking someone else’s.

I notice lots of people do that; it takes no effort to copy and paste another story.

But more importantly, it is not the support that most people need. And worse than that, there is the gossip that really is about as worthless as used toilet paper.

And unfortunately, Prison Talk has a LOT of that. Prisonville had a heck of a lot of that too, but as I mentioned before, it is no longer out there.

It proves that there indeed is a place for cackling hens to get together and talk about stuff that does NOTHING for a person in prison. And I suppose it has it’s place, it’s just not something I am interested in. It just does not sound right to go to a prison SUPPORT site to cackle with the other hens.

Not my kinda party.

Another big problem with prison support sites is Lack Of Information. In fact, I should have mentioned that first, because it indeed is a major factor. Consider this… nearly every single prison support site on the internet is made up of less than 1% of people who can actually talk from experience…that means at least 99% of the people are not speaking from experience…only hearsay and what they found on the internet.

That means that true information is not being shared…just thoughts.

When I wrote for Prison Talk, I was one of a very, very small handful of ex felons sharing info. It obviously showed because almost every time I put a post up, I always got lots of responses from people saying stuff like, “this is why I got a printer” or “I am glad to hear from someone who has been there”.

I am willing to bet you that there were more correctional officers on the site than ex felons…which drastically changes the sincerity of info you are getting.

It amazes me how small a number we are looking at. Think about it, how many guys and women have been in jail or prison in the last 20 years? MILLIONS! Yet in the years I have written on those sites, I might have identified less than 20 people who actually wrote…and only like 5 that wrote more than a couple of times.

This means that despite the genre, there really isn’t a lot of prison support out there, because most of the members are being led by the blind. The owner of Prison Talk claims to be an ex felon, but does he contribute to posts, or does he just copy and paste like most other folks.

And another thing I have a problem with… the badges of posts. I laugh when I see somebody with like 10,000 posts, or 5000 posts or some with like 25,000 posts…

Yeah right, like YOU write that much.

I wrote for Prison Talk for about 3 or 4 years, and put up about 1300 posts. If you have read my blogs here, you know I can’t write a short post. Such was the same there. If you read my posts, you read a hell of a lot of writing. But you got the information because I was not skimpy with it.

Yet lots of people like to copy and paste worthless sayings like, “hi and welcome to PTO”. Imagine that! I can spend 10 seconds typing that out, copy it and go down the list of 200 members and paste that simple saying, and rack up 200 posts.

Do that over a week, or a month and all of a sudden you too can have 3000 posts, or 5000 posts or more, and be thought of as an expert on the site…even if you don’t know a damn thing.

This is all based on the lack of information that many of these people give, which is misleading because a new person seeking help is going to think that someone with 17,000 posts is sharing something with them because they know what they are talking about. But most times it’s just because that person is using the opportunity to rack up numbers.

In short, many don’t give a damn about you.

And it shows in what they share. If they really cared for you, they’d spend more than 10 seconds writing a cheap post. Instead, they’d give their service to you because it is about prison support. When you go to a prison support site, you need help, you need somebody who has been there, and you need info from someone who has been there.

When a site can’t give that kinda info, people get disappointed and leave.

The final part I listed is something we keep taking for granted…MONEY.

Folks, it takes money to be charitable. You spend time doing something to help others long enough for nothing, and you burn yourself out. I remember the ignorant words of the owner of LostVault when I joined there and was shortly banned. I shared the story with you so I won’t repeat it, but in essence the owner is whining to me about how hard it is for her to keep the sight up and all her financial woes…but has the nerve to act like I don’t have a right to earn a dollar.


It takes money to do any efforts in prison support. If you start your own site, you need to maintain it, and that takes time…and as they say, time is money. Many people start out a site and realize that it takes more than a good heart to run it. If you don’t have the information and good people working with you, then it becomes a harder endeavor. And when that becomes a factor, then money becomes the biggest factor.

I mean, think about it. If a person really cared about prison support, but had like $10,000,000 in the bank, then it would be less stressful to deal with, because you could devote more time to it, rather than working a job, or two, and squeezing time to maintain the site.

I realize it takes money to do what I do too, that’s why I am trying to push my books and other works. And when I get a donation from someone who likes what I write, it means so much more than the multitudes that just said, “God bless you”.

Action speaks louder than words.

I think a lot of people really did get involved with prison support sites to help, but they did not account for (or just refused to account for) the fact that there has to be some financial support to keep it going.

I don’t suppose the owner of Prison Talk has that problem since he has his moderators working for him, which also explains why he does not contribute to the multitudes of people who are looking for help. But many other sites don’t have that kinda resources. For example, I think the owner at Prisoners of Love actually writes books, and it helps support her efforts. That’s what we are talking about, supporting a person’s efforts to help. It does come down to money.

If a person sent just a couple of dollars to a person trying to help, it could mean a lot. If a person sent $20, that would be great, if $50 that would be great, if $100 that would be great, if $300 that would be great…and so on.

Nobody likes to hear that, but it DOES take some level of money to continue to help those with loved ones in prison. Without it, the interest and encouragement fades, and in time, so does the site.

I hope some of the other sites hang in there, there are millions of people that need help. I do what I can here on my blogs, but I keep getting banned from other sites. Heaven forbid I talk about my books and stuff, they look at me like I was the spawn of satan.

Anyway, that’s my blog for now…the Hornets are about to play the Mavericks, and there is a night of basketball set for me…hope your team wins.

Email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask about my books and how to support my works.

No comments:

Post a Comment