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Re: ITW/P: freecati

On Oct 03, Craig Sanders wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 01, 1999 at 11:22:11PM -0500, Chris Lawrence wrote:
> > For the unfamiliar, CATI programs are used to to conduct surveys over
> > the telephone (although they can also be used in other contexts).
> > Think of an "installation wizard" with a modem dialer and database
> > backend, and you've got the idea.  The concept here is basically to
> > make it possible to turn mothballed 486es (or eMachines ;-) into
> > interviewing stations running Linux for the cost of a network card, a
> > good USR modem and a noise-cancelling headset (i.e. well under $200).
> IMO, this is morally akin to writing free software specifically to make
> spamming cheaper and easier.

No, it isn't.  Survey research is an important part of the social
sciences.  By your logic, I shouldn't write an MTA because that makes
it possible to transmit spam, or a fax program because it makes it
easier for people to spam fax machines.

> if you must write such obnoxious and evil software then please make
> sure that it maintains a list of phone numbers NOT to call, so that
> those who are sick and tired of market research jerks calling them
> just as they get home from work or sit down to dinner can say "PUT
> ME ON YOUR DO-NOT-CALL LIST IMMEDIATELY!". write the software so
> that it is trivially easy for the telemarketer to add numbers to
> that list.

1. Market research is only one use of computer assisted interviewing.
   The purpose of this project is to make it possible for a survey lab
   to be established cheaply by a university; existing solutions are
   overpriced, especially considering the fact that taxpayers tend to
   get hit with the startup costs for these things.

2. Ethical researchers do not call back people who, having been
   informed of the nature of a survey, choose not to participate.  The
   software will include this "refusal" marking capability.

3. Telemarketers and market researchers participate in a joint
   do-not-call list; they screen the number pool against that list.
   Note that non-profit concerns (educational institutions, for one)
   do not follow that list, for a variety of reasons I won't spam the
   list with.

4. Software is a tool, it is neither evil nor good.  Like any other
   technology, it is a matter of responsible use.

5. I could discriminate against certain fields of endevour in the
   license (telemarketing? what else?), but I think it's fairer (and
   DFSG-compliant) to ask that people behave responsibly and
   ethically.  In any event, I have no plans to "market" Debian as a
   "telemarketing solution"; the only thing I'd like to do is make it
   financially feasible for me to start a survey research business so
   I can raise money to pay for a survey or two in support of my
   eventual dissertation.  I have no plans to sell anything over the
   telephone, internet, or any other medium (beyond the Debian CDs I
   sell at a miniscule profit now... and all I have for them is a web

I'd be happy to discuss some of the positive aspects (or even the
negative ones) of ethical survey research with you via private mail.

Chris, who guesses he should have kept his mouth shut, made the
software proprietary, and saved everyone a world of grief.
|         Chris Lawrence          |           Visit my home page!           |
|    <quango@watervalley.net>     |     http://www.lordsutch.com/chris/     |
|                                 |                                         |
|  Political Scientist Wanna-be   |   Join the party that opposed the CDA   |
|    University of Mississippi    |            http://www.lp.org/           |

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