Another “How the Charley Project works” post

A lot of people wonder how I decide which cases to put up. I mean, Charley has a lot of cases, 9,500ish at last count, but there are so many more cases that fit the criteria but aren’t on there.

Well, it goes kind of like this: nearly every day I look at various online databases, like NamUs for example, for new cases to put up. I also check the Google news by searching for keywords like “missing person.” That will often turn up either a new case, or articles providing additional information on a case I already have. Anyway, I take the links to these cases and bookmark them. They go in the bookmarks folder (Google Chrome calls it “other bookmarks”) for all the links you don’t put in a specific folder. If I happen to come across a website for a particular missing person, like “Help Find Joe Smith” or one of those Facebook pages, I bookmark that too.

When I’m thinking about case to add on a particular day, the first place I go is that folder, which is a veritable buffet of information.

But this list of links accumulates REALLY fast, because I’m bookmarking more cases than I can put up in a day. (My target right now is five cases, which can be both new cases and updated ones. Anything after that is gravy.) Right now my “other bookmarks” has 372 links in it. Granted, not all of them are for missing persons; some are from general web surfing. But most of them, well over 300 I’d say, are MPs.

Eventually, the list in “other bookmarks” becomes too much for me to handle. And this is when it gets kind of sad, because I have to tell you about the Folder.

The Folder contains a collection of more folders, marked alphabetically. I move links from “other bookmarks” into their respective folder. Like, Aaron Aaronson goes into A, and so on. The idea is that I can go into the Folder, open one of the subfolders, and grab a random case if, god forbid, I didn’t already have one waiting.

This worked splendidly like, eight years ago, ten years ago. When NamUs came along and pretty much revolutionized the search for missing persons on the internet, this system stopped working. Because, it used to be that I would occasionally actually NEED a case from the Folder. Now, the Folder is basically useless. It’s become like the slushpile in book publishing: hopeful writers keep sending in their novels and no one bothers to look at them. If you have a particular case you really, really want posted, you had better hope it doesn’t go in the Folder. Because I haven’t even looked at the Folder in months, except to add more stuff to it.

This is not a complaint about NamUs or or any other site. I’m glad there’s so much more out there to solve cold cases. It’s my stupid system that can’t or won’t adapt to the changing circumstances. My fault.

The obvious thing to do would be to find some volunteers (and there have been many who have offered their support) to help with the backlog and clean out the Folder. I think it’s unlikely I’ll ever allow that to happen. My reasons are deeply personal and I believe, selfish, but here we are. I’ve talked about it with people close to me and they all agree it’s the best thing to leave things as they are.

I hope I don’t wind up regretting having posted this.

My experience on the CharleysMissing YouTube channel

You will get your requisite YouTube videos posted later today, as it is YouTube Saturday. I enjoy making these videos; it’s nice to work with another medium just to spice things up. However, I’m a perfectionist and it is damnably difficult to get the clips to pass the Meaghan Test.

I have spoken before about the problems with narration. Those are pretty minor and require only persistence to fix. The biggest difficulty involving these videos, I find, is in selecting who will be profiled in them.

It takes quite awhile, sometimes longer than the time involved in making the video itself. Almost every MP on the Charley Project is unsuitable in my mind. They get struck off the list for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. They’re a family abduction case. I’ve decided not to run any of those for a number of reasons.
  2. The person, and/or their story, is too similar to videos I’ve done before. I want some variety. Or there’s some other detail that has already been done. Like, for some reason I keep drawing cases that are out of El Paso, Texas. I have already done two El Paso missings in the relatively small number of videos I have posted. I have decided not to do any more for the time being. I was like: “Oh, this guy’s case is just perfect! …oh, wait, he’s from El Paso. Crap.”
  3. There’s no story at all to speak of.
  4. There is a long, complicated story that would take well over the allocated 60 seconds to tell.
  5. I’ve had some interactions with the MP’s family that didn’t really go very well, and I don’t want to bring that up again. (Let me add that this rarely happens. The number of times it has happened I can count on one hand.)
  6. It’s perfectly obvious what happened. No witnessed drownings, please. No MWAB cases either.
  7. It’s a runaway case — with some exceptions. With runaways, #6 applies in that there’s an obvious explanation for the disappearance. I did make an exception for Elyssa Vasquez due to her age and the time since she disappeared.
  8. I can’t pronounce the person’s name, or rather I’m not sure. This one kills so many perfectly good cases. I don’t want to run a video only to find out, months or years later, that I’d been saying their name wrong. It’s a particular problem with Hispanic people because there are so many. Michael and his father both know some Spanish; his father even used to teach it. But they aren’t native speakers and they can’t help me out every time.

So I’m quite selective in picking out which cases to make a video for. But I always manage to find at least two, every week.