WHY EMAIL PETITIONS DON'T
I am often asked if email petitions have
any value. Well, in my opinion, they are completely worthless.
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
Email petitions may never reach their
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
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.