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Change.org's Garbage

I don't get why one of the the go-to reactions to something the denizens of the internet don't like is to immediately create or sign a petition and then immediately assume the problem is solved. For starters, the people you're sending the petition to are under absolutely no obligation to follow the signatures. Google is not going to go back to the old comments just because they get however many signatures, the NSA is not going to stop spying on you, and the department of immigration is not going to deport Justin Bieber just because a bunch of names are on a list. In most cases, the worst that could happen is that someone could get a papercut if they happened to print it out, which is unlikely considering that it's already on the 'net.

That said, I made the mistake of signing a petition on Change.org once and to this day I'm still getting spam from them daily from multiple addresses asking me to sign a bunch of random petitions for things I don't give a shit about. Call me crazy, but I don't think spamming people's inboxes is generally a good way to get them to care about something.

This is not to say that petitions and change.org are good for absolutely nothing, but I think that in this day in age they've been used, overused, and misused to the point of losing their meaning. The spam certainly doesn't help either.

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Pointless internet petitions have been around pretty much since the dawn of the web.

That said, some of them do accomplish something if still pointless. One I recall was to encourage Mattel to manufacture a gender neutral Easy Bake Oven since obviously boys can be enthusiastic about cooking too. It succeeded and they now sell black and silver ones in addition to the pink and purple ones. Again, rather pointless, but DID accomplish the goal.

It all comes down to how seriously the entity being petitioned takes it.

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They still sell those ovens? I remember seeing a retraction notice years ago that wanted them all returned because of burn hazards (Because it's a fuckin' oven).

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Yeah, they have them still. Just certain models were recalled, I guess. No idea how they're different.

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Many petitions and internet initiatives are little more than noise, but I think it's dumber to think that petitions are useless just because they won't likely manage what is being desired or demanded. That's the result of speculative and opportunistic behavior, and a society of inhibited masses expecting "experts" to solve things instead of getting involved. Many of the best things achieved in society require ant-like work, a lot of expression that doesn't produce immediate effects and different levels of action.

In the Carmack politics thread I quoted the epitaph of a medieval English monk who was well aware of what I mean by linking apparently irrelevant and small individual actions to changing things.

One of the main potentials of a petition, boycott or other online initiative is getting the word out about an issue or making others aware that they share a preoccupation or problem, regardless of immediate effect.

Magical thinking is all about getting grand results quickly to meet an end. Real advancement has much more to do with persistent step by step work based on means.

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Linkrulezall said:

While I agree with myk, this still doesn't excuse the gratuitous amounts of spam.

Perhaps you get a bunch of like-minded people together to sign some kind of document asking the site to stop the spamming. Maybe even do it through the internet somehow....

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If it's a BIG bunch of like-minded people - call yourselves "Anonymous" and DDoS their website into oblivion. That'll show them the error of their ways.

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