All year long, I get lots of private emails. I do try to answer a majority of them, but I have stopped responding to emails in several types of categories. First, I rarely answer emails that are purely commercial in nature, though often I will fire off an answer that says “I don’t sell anything.” Or “you have reached marketmanila.com, a foodblog, and not a store, please direct your inquiry to the right vendor, venue, etc.” However, I do try and answer all emails that genuinely sound like they need assistance, clarification, further explanation for whatever reason. And I answer if I have something intelligent to add to the discussion. But the manner in which one phrases an email to me goes a long way towards whether I bother to reply or not. I also do not attend any PR events, business openings, accept freebies of products, food items, etc. that are CONSTANTLY being offered to me, but on this front I am consistent. I don’t take freebies and I don’t go to PR events unless I personally have a reason to be there. So those kinds of emails I rarely respond to as well, or maybe I will say simply “thanks, but no thanks”. I also don’t answer emails with patently stupid questions, of which I get an increasing number these days. Finally, there is a broad category of emails which I receive from students, from Highschool to Graduate Schools. I have received them from students in local schools and as far away as Mexico and Poland. In many cases, the students basically ask me to do their homework, often sending a list of questions that their teachers have probably given them to research. I don’t answer any of those. I also get frequent requests to help students with their theses, and sometimes I respond when i think I can be of help, other times I decline to assist due to too much being on my plate, etc. But I HAVE helped dozens of students over the years and I am happy to have done so. It takes time, and I have a limited amount, hence the picking and choosing. There is NO OBLIGATION on my part to help everyone.
Lately, however, I have been getting an increasing number of poorly worded, plaintive and inappropriate requests from students who don’t even seem to have even basic manners in place, and I rarely respond to those. There are dozens of students who are trying to confirm if the seeds of atis do indeed have a chemical which wards off lice, or the ones who want me to describe the chemical compounds in a particular fruit or vegetable, or the ones who want me to define the color spectrum of dyes in a duhat fruit. Give me a break, marketmanila.com is not a help desk for your homework. I strongly suggest you learn how to do some real, thorough research and augment that with some internet based work, if necessary. But sometimes, I get real “this takes the cake” kinds of exchanges, and I post this one in particular to discourage more of the same. I wasn’t as much angered by this example as I was saddened by the state of our national education, and the students that are in it, if I can have an exchange like this with someone claiming to be a student at U.P., one of the finest educational institutions in the country…
The first email received from “Maria” this morning 8/16/09 at 10:32 am:
“”kxxxx xxx xxxx ”
hi.. I am a student at UP Los Banos and am currently conducting my research study that requires me to use siling labuyo. I need as much as 5 kilos of it. is there a possibility that you can provide me with as much? I need it asap. please contact me as asap. you can email me back or text me at these numbers, 0929xxxxxxx or 0918xxxxxxx
Marketman responded with this email this morning 8/16/09 at 11:50 am:
You have written a food blog, marketmanila.com. Not a store, not a market, not a food supplier. One should exercise some care while doing research, no?
Ms. Maria, sent this second email this afternoon 8/16/09 at 1:10 pm:
“oh well.. i did not realize.. anyway i am just hoping that being the food blogger that you are, you may know some place or people that can help me look for the very item that you are blogging about. I was just looking for someone who can help me but apparently i have asked the wrong person who claims to know everything about red chili pepper.!
Know what you are an ass hole!.. You need not be rude when someone is asking you.. and it is your responsibility to answer with all modesty whatever questions your readers are asking you about.Have you been educated about ethics.. you can just tell me you don’t know, i don’t need your arrogant and nonsense reply.You just made yourself look stupid..how can you not know where to find the very item you are blogging about! “one should exercise some care while doing their research” this only applies to you! STUPID!”
Marketman answered with this email this afternoon 8/16/09 at 4:00 pm:
“I answered you factually (though I misspelled your name). Since you claim to be doing research, all I was saying is that perhaps you would do it with some care, instead of just firing off an email for help from a website that happens to feature a spice/vegetable which you are writing about. I rarely answer questions from readers that are commercial in nature, or which pretty much ask me to help them with their homework. And if you read your original email with care, you do not ask me to help you locate a supplier, you specifically say â€œis there are possibility that you can provide me with as much?â€ I didnâ€™t realize asking a stranger for help with two â€œasapsâ€ constitutes a polite and proper plea for assistance. And by the way, nary a thank you from you for whatever little information you may have gleaned from my post, here, which was based on my own research, for the open use of everyone who visits the site. Presumably you will quote marketmanila.com as a source if you use any of the information that was cited on that post.
Frankly, you are the misguided and impetuous fool who made the wrong presumption to begin with, and made it worse with a follow up email that is absurd to the max. It pains me that students of a school of such a caliber as the University of Philippines would comport themselves in this manner. And unluckily for you, I do feel strongly about U.P., as one uncle happens to have been the Dean of Fine Arts and another uncle, the President of the University of the Philippines some years back. So I am forwarding your two emails to Dean Dr. Domingo E. Angeles, who hopefully is still the current Dean of the College of Agriculture at UP Los Banos, so he can see just what kind of primary research his students are doing and the manner in which they are doing it.
Maybe if you had just gone to a local market or two or a farm in your area perhaps you now wouldnâ€™t be in this ridiculous situation. Thatâ€™s where I find the produce I write about, I donâ€™t look on the internet for produce suppliers. :)
I trust you will have a lovely week ahead of you. Perhaps as part of your research you may want to try chopping up some siling labuyo, then forget to wash your hands, then touch your private parts. Now THAT is indeed RUDE.
P.S. Check marketmanila.com by Monday for a post on this matter, which will include your emails to me in full. I hope others from U.P. Los Banos see this for what it is.”
Ms. Maria just sent me another email as I was writing this post on 8/16/09 at 4:32 pm:
“hi again, thank you for answering me.
By the way, just so you know. My mother is the one who is needing the pepper, she is the one who’s doing the research and i am helping her. she doesn’t have any knowledge whatsoever about this conversation. and i do not want to implicate her being the student of UP. And so i ask that we keep this among ourselves.
i was taken a back by the way you answered my inquiry, and so i have been defensive. I know i have said foul words and I am sorry for that. it’s just that i have been looking all over the place for the chili pepper, and i was hoping that someone could help me and you answered me rudely.
for whatever it causes you,i apologize. i just hope this stops here. I believe we are both intelligent people to settle things out without including people who are not concern with the situation.
i do not want to cause anymore trouble with you posting this on your site. let’s just be discreet and solve this in right and proper manner. i don’t mean any harm.
thank you. I hope you understand.
I hope to hear from you again.”
Marketman answered with this email at 4:36 pm:
“The die is cast. Post up in a few minutes. You should have thought about your email before you sent it.
And another email from Ms. Maria at 4:49 pm:
“ok, i just hope this makes you happy. one request though, can you just leave my mother and her school out of this? she doesn’t know anything and since i am not from UP, i think it is unfair to drag them in this issue so let’s leave them out of this. hope you understand.
and please, if you are really sure about posting my emails in your site, make sure to post yours as well.
thank you for being responsive.. again i apologize…”
Now is that ridiculous or is that RIDICULOUS? So shortly after the Macintosh post the other day, first “Ms. Maria” claims she lies that she is a student. Then insists that I help her find chili “asap” and “asap” then when she receives my short reply, she blows up and all manner of foul language is used. Then when I respond, she answers with a story of woe that it is in fact her mother that is the student and begs me to ignore all of the previous exchanges. Sorry Maria, that isn’t how things work around here. Ask for help in a proper manner. Do not ever lie to get what you want. Do not assume you can call others names without any consequences. Some may think I have smacked you hard with a fishpan by writing this post. But hopefully you will have learned a simple lesson or two today.
So instead of outright sending Ms. Maria’s emails to Dean Dr. Domingo Angeles of the College of Agriculture at UP Los Banos, I will give my REGULAR commenters a chance to weigh in with their opinions… So marketmanila.com regulars, what do you think I should do? Believe Ms. Maria’s later emails that she is not the student and accept Ms. Maria’s hastily and poorly structured apology(ies) or go ahead and send the emails to the Dean of Agriculture at UP? I will only accept comments from people who have commented before, in other words, I will not allow comments in from first time commenters on this particular post to prevent “vote padding”. I am curious if readers think I should condone Ms. Maria’s behavior or let her face the full consequences of her actions/emails.
NOTE: I have done a follow up to this with the actions I have taken. Scroll down the comments to about the 100th comment to see what I have decided. Thank you very much to all that have left comments on this post.
I have also decided to remove Maria’s last name, which I gather is a real one, and the name of her daughter as I believe the right lessons have been learned. I have also removed their cell phone numbers which I gather were real and legitimate. I have left the post up however so that others can learn from it.