Do not disturb (but only when it’s convenient for you)

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With the Toronto Mayoral election upon me today and two major candidates fighting for the lead (George Smitherman and Rob Ford), I came to appreciate just how important our Do Not Call list is. This is a list people can add their phone number to which tells telemarketers not to call them. If a telemarketer phones a number on the list, there will be penalties for the company. Market researchers, social researchers, and political pollsters have been granted special permissions which allow them to call numbers on that list without penalty.

And that brings me to this past weekend and the impending political vote. I received over ten phone calls from people “hoping to count on my support.” A couple of calls were real people but most were automated calls that droned on and on filling up my answering machine. A couple of calls were negative campaigns but most seemed to be professional. I have to say most because I turned down the volume of my phone and stopped listening to them once I realized what was happening.

I have full respect for the political process and urge everyone to vote (or spoil their ballot) in every election that they are eligible to vote in. But boy, did I take a second ponder at that Do Not Call list. If I didn’t put my name on the list, how much phone spam would I receive?

Which brings me to my real point. Social media research of course. Jeffrey Henning of Vovici tweeted me this weekend to ask my opinion about groups that are password protected but can be instantly accessed by anyone as soon as they create a password. I immediately thought of the Do Not Call list.

Both systems are examples of lists that are easy to sign up for and easy to ignore. I CAN call someone on a Do Not Call list. I know they don’t want to talk to me but their phone number isn’t physically broken. I CAN sign up for a password to a forum and receive instant access but I know the password means this information is not for public consumption. I CAN ignore people’s polite attempts to tell me that I’m not wanted but I can usually take a hint.

Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you should. What do you think?

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