As 2017 comes to a close, InSight Crime takes a look back at some of our favorite interactions with our audience this year. Some are genuinely nice thank you notes or even praise. Others are profanity-laced tirades about perceived biases or shortcomings in our coverage. And some are just plain weird.
While our work is regularly cited and republished by major media outlets, it's always a pleasure to hear from smaller news sources like the folks at Meanguera. Thanks for sharing our coverage of El Salvador.
We also love to hear from individual readers, like another admirer of our El Salvador coverage, our old friend "El Detective." (Seriously, though, we don't know who let the dogs out.)
Chris isn't quite sure if what we're publishing is true. (It is.) But we're glad he enjoys our work anyway.
It's great that so many people appreciate the immense effort we put into covering all things organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean. But as the saying goes, haters gonna hate. And perhaps unsurprisingly, some of our most vehement and conspiracy-minded critics this year popped up on social media.
One particularly nasty Twitter account belonging to "Capitán Jack Sparrow" shared death threats against journalists who have worked with InSight Crime, and connected us to a vast network of news outlets and non-governmental organizations that allegedly promote a bizzare combination of "human rights for gang members, corruption, marijuana legalization, legalization of abortion, LGBT rights, women's rights" and "persons displaced by violence."
In one of his most memorable broadsides, the captain accused InSight Crime and two of our partner organizations, El Faro and Factum, of being controlled by the "tentacles" of "Goerge" Soros, whom he described as "Mr. Antichrist" and "the enemy of humanity."
(For the record, InSight Crime is not being controlled by the antichrist, though we do receive support from George Soros' Open Society Foundations.)
("Stick to your editorial line, or else Mr. Antichrist will take away the donations of $$$$ ... son of a bitch.")
Another reader, coincidentally named George, expressed deep discontent with our coverage of the relationship between climate change and organized crime, accusing us of peddling "BS Socialism propaganda." It's not exactly clear what this has to do with the rest of his rant about "group one" and "group 2," including numerous references to "thugs," but we can assure our audience that we're simply sharing facts and analysis, not making "excuses for criminals" as George alleges.
We were also smeared on more than one occasion -- including by another reader named George -- as being "racist." This charge is obviously laughable, as are the obscenity-laden emails the accusers sent to us.
InSight Crime's following of social media trolls seemed to grow this year. And interestingly, many of them appear to spend most of their time on the internet promoting and defending Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, who has come under fire for alleged ties to drug trafficking and corruption.
In response to a tweet about one of our articles on this topic, user "kevin nunez" informed the twitterverse that President Hernández has "nothing to hide," and that the allegations against him were a response to his "brave" efforts to fight "drug cartels."
Curiously, our Twitter account was also repeatedly bombarded with pro-Hernández memes from other users promoting the law-and-order president's supposed economic successes.
In an amazing feat of hubris, a reader named Jay attempted to troll us regarding our extensive, in-depth coverage of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC).
Jay wrote to us claiming to have "unique insights" on the "FARQ," and criticized us for focusing on "surface symptoms without knowing the source of the infection."
"Do you really want to see some change?" he asked. "Or do you need all this violence and drama just to have a life and something to report on?"
(To answer Jay's question, we would indeed like to "see some change." That's why our website has a "What Works" section where readers can find our coverage about the advantages and shortcomings of various strategies aimed at reducing violence and criminality.)
Undeterred by our lack of a response to his first missive, Jay wrote back the next day with a cryptic message asking to meet when he traveled to Colombia.
Once again, we declined to respond.
Some of the audience correspondence we received this year can be charitably described as ... unusual.
In an email with the subject line "Corruption," Enrique wrote us a simple, if confusing, message: "Need advice."
We never heard from him again.
Ray from Jackson, Michigan wrote us to ask for "contact information" for the MS13 gang.
It wasn't clear what he planned to do with that information, so we decided it was best not to reply.
Mike wrote us to suggest that gang members should try to monetize the video content they produce by putting it on YouTube.
"Revenue can be generated from chalk drawings," he said, apparently frustrated with having to point out the obvious. "Duh."
And in response to our investigation of illegal mining in Colombia, Szidonia reached out with some timeless, yet unsolicited advice: "Where there is money to be found, there will always be Gold Diggers!"
Thank You for a Great Year
On a serious note, the InSight Crime team deeply appreciates our growing audience of professional and part-time "narco-nerds." We strive every day to provide the most accurate and comprehensive coverage of crime and security issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, and we love hearing words of appreciation as well as constructive criticism. Please feel free to contact us to share your thoughts about how we can better our coverage, or to let us know how our work has been useful to you.
However, if you're like Joe and you need "5-10 worthless ghosts removed very badly," you should probably call someone else.