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I am often asked if email petitions have any value. Well, in my opinion, they are completely worthless. Here's why:

Name lists on email petitions are very easy to forge:

Very often, to "sign" an email petition you simply add your name and perhaps some geographic information such as the name of the city you live in. However, the person targeted by the petition has no way of knowing if the names are genuine. It would be exceptionally easy for a person to make up lists of bogus names or even copy and paste names from other sources.

Email petitions may never reach their target:

A lot of email petitions instruct you to forward the petition to a specific email address once the list reaches a given number of names. However, there is no guarantee that anybody in authority will actually get to view the petition. If the same petition emails, albeit with different names included, are being repeatedly sent to a government department or other large organization there is a good chance that they will be simply deleted before they are read.

Email petitions can be counter productive:

A more subtle danger of email petitions is that they can effectively defang a person's desire to take constructive action concerning a cause they believe in. The almost too simple act of "signing" and forwarding an email petition can give the sender a false sense of having "done" something to help "the cause" and they may be less likely to become involved in more worthwhile approaches to the problem at hand.

Email petitions can make the email populace aware of the issue if they read the petition.  However they have close to zero credibility with the intended target recipient, and if anything, only serve to swamp their inbox and further enrage them against those who are promoting a good cause.

Instead of asking people to perpetuate the use of a flawed tool, why not ask them to send a personal email directly to the target recipient, with copies to several other interested parties.  The chances of a personal email being read, and its viewpoint making an impact, are vastly better than those of an email petition.  Governments and large organizations pay people on staff to read correspondence.  (The same people that simply delete email petitions.)  Yes, it does take more time to write an email than simply signing your name, but that is the whole point.  That is precisely why personal email letters have the credibility and impact that they have.

In summary, think twice about "signing" and forwarding email petitions. There are much more effective ways of bringing attention to a problem and registering your protest.





Email Scams & Hoaxes


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