Sunday, March 04, 2007

How to Embarrass Yourself

I am not known for having any tact. My lack of diplomacy often leads folk to think I'm a completely insensitive lout. This may be so, to some extent, but quite often my social missteps are just that: JRSmith stumbling along.

The following are a series of actual letters, the result being that I end up being a jerk. I have removed names and email addresses to protect the truly innocent. (And, yes, I could not possibly have made this up.)



The National Forest Website for North Carolina is the worst I've seen. Which is a shame, since the National Forests here in North Carolina have so much to offer and should have a superior Website to promote them.

I'm not sure what the budget is like, but the National Forests in other states seem to do a much better job of promoting the forests for recreation, and informing the public of the rewards of taking advantage of this valuable natural resource. I visit the National Forests in most of the states around North Carolina, and finding information on them is so much easier, and the information is provided in a simpler format that is also much easier on the eyes.


James R. Smith

06/13/2005 10:43

Subject Fw: Website

Not sure who this is....

W-- G--, CGFM
Acting Administrative Officer
National Forests in North Carolina
Asheville, NC
Telephone ***-***-****

> ----- Forwarded by W-- G--/SRS/USDAFS on 06/13/2005 10:42 AM
> Mailroom R8 North
> Carolina
> Sent by: V--
> Bogany W--
> 06/13/2005 06:39
> AM Re: Website
----- Original Message -----
From: "T-- S--" <>
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2005 12:55 PM
Subject: Fw: Website

We received your comment and I wanted to follow up with you; if you don't
mind taking a few minutes I would love to hear your suggestions for the
type of information you are looking for.

I look forward to hearing from you

T-- S--
Public Affairs Officer

"James Smith"
"T-- S--" <>
06/13/2005 04:38 cc
Subject Re: Website

I don't have a lot of time just now, so I'll try to get my point across briefly.

To simplify matters, I would like to direct you to the Monongahela National Forest Website for a look at a superior method of informing citizens about the Forestlands they're looking for. This is one of the finest NFS websites I've used. One of the reasons my family goes at least once per year (and usually more often) to the West Virginia National Forest is because we can locate detailed information on their facilities online so easily.

Another good Website that I use often is the one for Jefferson/Washington National Forests in Virginia. This year my wife and I decided to stay at Beartree Recreation Area and were able to get a lot of information on that facility before we finalized our plans.

These are the kinds of sites the North Carolina National Forests need to have at work. I don't know if some college students at UNCAsheville are cobbling your Website together for college credits, but that's what it looks like. Frankly, it's graphically sophomoric, and trying to find information on specific areas in North Carolina's National Forests is a tough go at our Website.

Well, there it is, briefly.

If you want to look at the websites I mentioned, the one for Monongahela is

And the one for Jefferson and George Washington National Forests is here:

Mount Rogers NRA is here:

And Beartree is here:

I hope this helps. My wife and I had been planning a stay at Standing Indian
Campground, but finding information on that facility has been a tough go. The brief description on that fuzzy .pdf file along with two or three dozen other facilities was not a very good option for helping us make a decision. We had just about decided to head for West Virginia again, but are taking a chance and going blind to Standing Indian.


James R. Smith

From: "T-- S--" <>
To: "James Smith"
Subject: Re: Website
Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2005 9:57 AM

thanks for the prompt feedback; actually I manage the website for the
forest but it is an "other duty as assigned" and I have no formal training
in area; guess it shows:)

I will be making a pitch next fiscal year for a position that among other
things can work on our web content; in the meantime we will keep chipping
away at adding content and improving navigation


----- Original Message -----
From: James Smith
To: T-- S--
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2005 4:35 PM
Subject: Re: Website

----- Original Message -----
From: "T-- S--" <>
To: "James Smith"
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2005 9:53 AM
Subject: Re: Website

> thanks for the prompt feedback; actually I manage the website for the
> forest but it is an "other duty as assigned" and I have no formal training
> in area; guess it shows:)

Oy. Didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings, but being blunt seemed to best way to get my ideas across in a short amount of time.

My wife and I had just been so frustrated trying to plan a National Forest vacation in our home state. We have no trouble planning a nice vacation in Georgia, WV, or VA, but now that we've decided to spend more time in the National Forests here in North Carolina, we're having a rough time getting the information we need.

Good luck on talking them into getting a full-time position to handle the Website. I understand budgets are tight in all of the Forests and Parks. Alas. National priorities are ass backward.

Take care. Sincerely,

James R. Smith


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Sounds like me on the phone over the course of three days with the Geek Squad at Best Buy. At least your guys didn't refer to themselves as "agents."

HemlockMan said...

I used to work for Best Buy. It was official company policy that there was no such thing as "customer service". They sell things at a decently low price, but don't expect any friendly treatment if you have a problem after the purchase.