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Re: ITW/P: freecati

On Sat, Oct 02, 1999 at 10:50:06PM -0500, Chris Lawrence wrote:
> On Oct 03, Craig Sanders wrote:
> > 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.  

it may be an important tool, but that doesn't give you or anyone else
the right to pester people in their own homes. it really does no good to
apologise or even to promise not to call back - by that time, the damage
has been done...the interruption/disturbance has been made, the invasion
of peace, solitude and privacy has already been perpetrated.

even opt-out lists are the wrong solution...because they don't work very
well (especially when usage of them is optional). telephone pests should
be limited to calling ONLY an opt-in list, people who are willing to
receive unsolicited calls.

> 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.

cold calls are annoying regardless of their purpose. sales calls are
especially annoying, but that doesn't excuse academic or market research

i personally don't have a problem with existing solutions being
overpriced - this is one area where an artificially high barrier to
entry is unquestionably a Good Thing. the right to peace and quiet in
your own home is far more important than the desire of universities to
conduct surveys.

> 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.

good. that was the main reason i replied to your message. if you are
going to write software that makes it easier or cheaper to pester people
in their own homes then that software should make it trivially easy to
add new numbers to the do-not-call list, and it should be do-able by the
operator who makes the call at the time that the victim complains.

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

some technologies have little or no 'good' usage. some technologies have
negative effects which greatly outweigh any positive ones.

> Chris, who guesses he should have kept his mouth shut, made the
> software proprietary, and saved everyone a world of grief.

look, it's your software, your project. nobody can stop you from
writing it, or packaging it for debian. the point of my message was
to inform you that your work will have certain negative consequences
and will end up being used to harass and pester people. little/startup
telemarketing companies WILL use your software whether you market it as
a "telemarketing solution" or not - this WILL increase the number of
annoyance sources in the world. like it or not, you have to accept some
of the moral responsibility for that.


craig sanders

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