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The Xenophile Historian


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Sorry for the inconvenience. Since I learned that spammers send out programs called "harvesting bots" to get addresses off webpages, I have gone to extraordinary lengths to stop them. This means I have removed the links to my e-mail address, placing the address instead in an animated graphic, visible on the home page and this page (they're not programmed to look for pictures, just text links). You can e-mail me by opening up your favorite e-mail program, or logging into a web-based e-mail service, and typing in the address you see above, or you can fill out the form below. Don't worry; there's plenty of room for your comments in the form, despite the size of the boxes. Once I have your e-mail address, and you have mine, we can communicate normally, with a simple e-mail exchange.

Mail sent to any address ending in used to be automatically forwarded to me, but I have disabled that feature, because in three and a half years of having it up, all I got was spam. Sorry about that, non-spammers.

If you do write, please follow these guidelines:

1.  I may have already answered your questions. Please check the FAQ page to see if I have.

2.  Please think twice before sending stories and rumors that you've heard, stuff like the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe, HIV-infected needles in gas pump handles, plans to require postage on future e-mails, a proposal to ban religious broadcasting from television, virus warnings, etc. Most of that falls under the category of hoaxes and "urban legends." I talk more about them on this page. Please check your sources first. A little research is worth the time it takes, if it keeps you from looking like a fool in the eyes of everyone you might send such nonsense to. Those who do that to me more than once may get a fake letter in return, warning about the dangers of the "gullibility virus."

3.  My inbox is where chain letters go to die. I do not forward any letter that tells me to send it to everyone in my address book. Even if I agree with the ideas in such a letter, the chain will stop here every time. I am not the human virus. I do not go online to clog up the highways of cyberspace.

4.  Attachments are fun, and I keep the good ones I receive, but don't go overboard. I'm not likely to open them unless I know you already, especially if they are files ending in .exe--a good sign of a virus. Moreover, if it is more than 1 meg in size, you're either going to have problems sending it, or I'm going to have problems receiving it. Therefore, I always appreciate it if you zip them up before sending them, because I do get some multi-megabyte monsters! If you don't have a zip/unzip utility like WinZip, by all means get one. The best that I've found so far is FilZip.

5.  If I receive a message with a blank subject line, expect me to delete it on sight. Ditto for anything with a subject line that doesn't make any sense, like "Here is the information you requested," when I didn't ask for any. Those are more good signs of a virus or spam. If the sender's name and e-mail address are hidden, so that I cannot see them in my inbox, I'll definitely assume it's a virus, and act accordingly. You can't be too careful these days. Please do us both a favor, and use the subject line to tell me what you're talking about. It's only common courtesy.

(By the way, the quickmailer form will fill the subject line automatically, so you don't have to worry about it there.)

6.  If I am part of a mass mailing--any list containing multiple e-mail addresses--I will probably look at what you send before deleting it, but don't expect me to respond. I don't want to do anything that encourages the four worst e-mail abusers:  spammers who will offend the world to get one sale, scamsters with their get-rich-quick schemes and "herbal viagra," pornsters who send suggestive messages and naughty links to my daughter, and wormsters spreading viruses. Also, if the subject line contains "Fw:", "Fwd:", or (worst of all) "Fw: Fwd: Fwd:", there's a good chance I have seen it before. I may have been born in the night, but it wasn't last night!

7.  Along that line, if you send me unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE), commonly known as spam, you waive all copyright protection to the graphic files, links, code and text in your messages, should I choose to use them. Lord knows, you have already made sure that those items are in the public domain, by sending them to millions who don't want to see such stuff.

8.  Because this website is about world history, and I participate on bulletin boards where history is the main topic, people send me history questions all the time. Some come straight to my inbox, while others are posted on those bulletin boards. I enjoy answering them, except when they include a statement like, "This is for a class project that's due tomorrow, so I need your help as soon as possible!" Most of the questions I get can't be answered without picking up a book or visiting a few websites, so putting me under that kind of pressure may get you a quick answer, but the research will be sloppy if I don't have a decent amount of time to do it.

9.  I probably shouldn't have to ask this, but if you want a response, please make sure the e-mail address you give me is one that works. Recently, I have had three cases where I responded to an e-mail from somebody using the form below, one of them from a student requesting help, and my answer could not be delivered. I was left wondering whether the person writing me never cleans out his/her inbox, or if the address was simply no good. Please make sure there's enough room in your inbox for my reply. And turn off your spam filter, too, if it normally blocks mail from addresses it doesn't recognize; recently several of the letters I wrote couldn't be delivered because of that.

Now do you still want to write me? GO FOR IT!

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