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MP Wants Official Email Address Kept Private

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the la-la-la-i-can't-hear-you dept.

Government 179

nk497 writes "An MP in the UK has had his official email address removed from the parliamentary website, because he's tired of getting 'nuisance' emails via online campaign websites. MP Dominic Raab's parliamentary.uk email is currently not listed on the House of Commons' website following a spat with online campaigners 38 Degrees. 'Just processing the emails from your website absorbs a disproportionate amount of time and effort, which we may wish to spend on higher priorities, such as helping constituents in real need or other local or Parliamentary business,' he said, threatening to report the group to the government's data and privacy watchdog if they didn't remove the details from their own website. 38 Degrees says Raab gave them his personal email address during the election: 'it's only since he became a member of parliament with a taxpayer funded email address that he's now said he doesn't want to hear from people,' unless they're willing to shell out for a stamp to write him a letter. The lobby group said Raab likely averaged fewer than two emails from their site each day."

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Bayes (4, Interesting)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200636)

Maybe he would be better off using some type of Bayesian classifier similar to the one SpamAssassin uses.

http://linux.die.net/man/1/sa-learn [die.net]

It should work as well at classifying 'nuisance' emails as it does for classifying plain Spam as long as one trains it accordingly. Then, check the 'nuisance' emails at a lowest priority. He could also have his email go through several Bayesian filters, one trained to identify 'nuisance' emails and one trained to identify plain Spam. All email types could be handled differently.

In my experience, it's already too late to remove your email address from a web site when already too many people know it so it is not that efficient. Anyways, it seems like this guy might need some technical advise ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayes'_theorem [wikipedia.org]

http://spamassassin.apache.org/ [apache.org]

Re:Bayes (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200682)

He should get multiple 'public' e-mail addresses...

A binspam address published proudly on the website, a less-publicized email addy to give to constituents... and per-sender (sender-specific) e-mail addresses provided only to constituents and others who establish a meaningful conversation by sending a verifiably non-nuisance message

Re:Bayes (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200742)

I already do something very similar to what you describe but that guy has to start somewhere ;-)

The Bayesian classifier is only a part of what SpamAssassin uses and using SpamAssassin is only a part of how one should handle emails.

Re:Bayes (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200906)

Alternatively, he could adopt a Slashdot approach:

Create a "bounce" message saying "Your email has been intercepted by a lameness filter..."

Re:Bayes (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201998)

constituents and others who establish a meaningful conversation
by sending a verifiably non-nuisance message

Precisely. Then he can filter out the constituents he doesn't want to hear from and only listen to the ones with memberships at the yacht club, private jets for him to tool around in, choice seats at the <local sports team> or Opera house...

Re:Bayes (3, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200692)

It's about 700 e-mails a year from a single website; I think a simple domain name filter would suffice and still allow other citizens to send e-mail.

Re:Bayes (1, Funny)

muphin (842524) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200792)

yeah just block all @yahoo.com @gmail.com @hotmail.com address' and watch the spam count drop, who cares if your constituents use them, its their fault for using a service used for spam
</sarcasm>

Re:Bayes (2, Informative)

ArmchairGeneral (1244800) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202096)

Better yet, filter all email addressed to @parliament.uk to the Spam folder. /fixed

Not from a single website (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201542)

From about 700 people e-mailing him a year (and using one website to send the mail). He can choose to block them if he thinks that he either doesn't care about their opinions or if he thinks he has - after the first few hundred - heard every point they have to make about the issue. But he won't be blocking one website but hundreds of people who wanted to send e-mail to a politician. If his assistants can't handle those mails accordingly (IE: at least skim through the mails quickly to see if there is anything interesting in there that would warrant looking at it in mode detail. a 20 second task to handle an e-mail that someone actually spent time writing to a politician) I don't even know the words to describe such incompetence... But I doubt this is about that. He is just being a jerk.

Re:Bayes (1)

nlvp (115149) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202518)

Are you sure that "from your website" wasn't shorthand for "people sent me mail because your website asked them to"? In this case each email would come from a different domain.

The way many of these campaigns work is that a group organises a mass mailing effort to swamp a member of parliament with emails on a single issue in order to force them to deal with the question. It's basically not far off a denial-of-service attack via email.

I agree that it can probably be dealt with using simple filtering because these websites typically provide the draft to be copy-pasted in the email, so the text is always very similar. It's still a fairly unpleasant political tactic, better to have a petition signed and send one document with a few thousand signatures.

Re:Bayes (3, Interesting)

AVryhof (142320) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201872)

Having run a mail server with a few hundred users, I have learned that people hate being told to run anti-spam software. They expect you to remove every piece of junk mail for them before it gets to their computer. Even with SpamAssassin, and subscriptions to most major spam and dnr databases in my configuration, people still complain, but refuse to run mail filters of their own.... and now you are dealing with someone who has a big enough ego to have gotten elected to public office, and will expect more done for him.... all I can say is good luck with that.

Re:Bayes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201940)

Actually he doesn't want his email get private. He wants to prevent spam There is a left wing socialist organistation that has taken up spamming MPs as a hobby.

lemme get this straight (3, Insightful)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200678)

a public official doesn't want to be contacted by the public? No one likes to hear the peasants out. Where's the story here?

Re:lemme get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33200722)

yeah, receives a whole whopping 2 emails a day !

Re:lemme get this straight (1, Insightful)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200744)

Whining about "shelling out" for sending a letter had me rolling my eyes. How important can a note be if the sender doesn't think it's worth a quarter to send it.

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Informative)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201184)

Well firstly in the UK it's actually just over a "third" rather than a "quarter" to send the message first class (and if it's important or time sensitive you'll want to send it first class), and much more if you want it recorded to ensure it arrives. You then have to get an envelope, if you don't have a printer you need to find some way to print it out (add on the cost of the paper and printer ink), you have to take the time to go buy these items and then you then have to take more time out to go post your letter and again wait several days to see if you get a response (at least with an email you should get a pretty instant "Thanks for your email", with a letter it could be delayed, lost in the post or just filed in this guy's waste bin and you have no way of knowning). There are all kinds of reasons to send an email over a letter, cost is a minor one, convenience is a much bigger one, and then there are "green" considerations, paperless is much kinder to the environment. When we're meant to be aiming for "Broadband Britain [guardian.co.uk] " it seems this guy is actually going backwards. What's the point encouraging schemes to put broadband in the homes of every voter in the UK just to turn around and tell them not to use it for email?

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202028)

Where do you live that a first class stamp is a quarter?

Or are you suggesting constituents should be sending postcards?

Re:lemme get this straight (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33200854)

a public official doesn't want to be contacted by the public? No one likes to hear the peasants out. Where's the story here?

This sort of thing might explain it. [youtube.com]

Re:lemme get this straight (5, Insightful)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200942)

To put this in a bit of context:

I have at times worked in a central policy department in the UK civil service. Dealing with correspondence from MPs to our Minister, usually passing along letters or concerns from the MP's constituent, is a large part of the work of many junior (and mid-level) officials. In my most recent post during a Parliamentary term, the relatively small team I managed would usually have in the region of 20 such letters needing replies, with a week to turn each one around (and our policy area isn't even a particularly high profile one). For MPs, dealing with correspondence is a pretty big part of their job; representing their constituent's concerns in Parliament is what they are there to do, and is one of the ways they can show they are "in touch" with their constituency. The degree to which the MP chooses to get involved in the issue varies; sometimes the constituent's letter (or e-mail) is passed along with little more than "can I have some information so I can respond", but in other cases, the MP might request a meeting with one of the Department's ministers to discuss the issue further, or if he feels he is not getting a satisfactory answer, might raise the issue on the floor of the House of Commons. While officials draft the responses in these cases, Ministers always check them before they are issued and sometimes make edits, or ask officials to take follow-up action.

In any event, writing to your MP is the most effective recourse for a UK citizen who has a problem with the political establishment and most MPs take their duty seriously. Obviously, you are more likely to get positive engagement from your MP if you are writing about a tangible issue that wouldn't otherwise have come to light (eg. your small business is having problems with the planning system, or you believe your employer is violating health and safety law but have been ignored, or something of that ilk) than about one of the large and controversial topics (such as the Iraq war, or the bank bailouts) and MPs are always going to be less likely to get involved in a case that is clearly motivated by an ideology they don't share. But the fact remains that writing to your MP is far more effective than writing directly to a Minister (or the Prime Minister), as the latter will usually just yield a response drafted by an official that has never been near a Minister.

The problem is that in recent years, the system has been somewhat under siege by various pressure groups. These groups do direct, regular and repetitive mail-shots to MPs, with many of them even providing tools to make it easy for users of their website to join in on the action simply by filling in a form. They operate on the principle of "if we say something often and loud enough, then MPs will conclude we are important or in the majority". In reality, all they tend to do is gunk up the system with spam, as MPs struggle to identify the letters and e-mails from their own constituents, asking for help with issues where the MP might actually be of some use.

The MP in this case was wrong to have his official e-mail address taken off the Parliamentary website. That's where I'd expect that many of his constituents would start looking for his details to contact him. However, the greater fault here lies with the self-righteous pressure groups who see nothing wrong with trampling over the system by substituting volume for reasoned argument and resorting to the tactics of the spammer.

Re:lemme get this straight (4, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201066)

And your point is? Email from these pressure groups are in no way invalid if they are from his constituents. Just because a Tory politician doesn't agree with the stance taken by pressure groups such as 38 degrees, doesn't give him the right to withdraw a valuable communications channel to his constituents. You can be sure that if those emails are in support of the MPs pet project, he would be openly inviting more email correspondence.

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Insightful)

eyrieowl (881195) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201186)

Hear, hear! The MP is not elected solely to represent the constituents who are not intimidated by trying to craft reasoned arguments that might sway an MP. They're also elected to represent the views of their many constituents who, on a given issue, may find that an interest group has articulated their position better than they themselves could, as well as those constituents whose opinion on some issues may be as concise as "yay" or "nay". If the MP isn't providing a better way for those constituents to bring those views to the MP's attention, the MP bears the blame for alternate methods of communication with them which spring up.

An enlightened MP would realize that there is an opportunity to create a system which furthers the needs of democracy. A system that works for and with the constituents as well as managing the "pressure groups". I think that if the MPs had a website similar to those used by the "pressure groups", one where citizens and/or pressure groups could add issues they are concerned about on their own, and one where individual citizens could pick the statements they agree with, enter their contact info, and be added to a simple tally for their MP, that much of the "spam" could be eliminated. If citizens wanted to add comments in their own words when agreeing with a position statement, those comments would be made available to their MP; otherwise, they would just be added to the tally for the position statement. Special interests could be encouraged to post their own position statements to the site and direct their partisans to go "agree" with it, they'd still be able to make known to MPs that "lots of us feel strongly about this position". Added bonus for them--they may be able to reduce their IT spend, in the basic case being able to make do with a very simple site that just links to the issues they are supporting on the Parliamentary issue site.

Anyhow, that's what I think an enlightened MP would do. Which Mr. Raab appears not to be.

Re:lemme get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201288)

They're also elected to represent the views of their many constituents who, on a given issue, may find that an interest group has articulated their position better than they themselves could

We used to refer to people like that as "rentacrowd".

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201642)

"the views of their many constituents who, on a given issue, may find that an interest group has articulated their position better than they themselves could, ..."

You mean the goat has already told them how to work the garden?

gun related - ask only NRA
farm subsidy - ask only Farmer's Association ...

It's _because_ those groups swaying/paying off your man that people want to reach their representatives to tell them they will raise hell for any next vote if he misrepresents them.

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Interesting)

samjam (256347) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202030)

Well said. And isn't the tory party also a pressure group? Aren't all political parties? Maybe he doesn't like the competition.

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201204)

AIUI, his point is that there are always going to be pressure groups trying to change an MPs mind over an issue.

In the past, they may have got together and drafted a letter saying "500 people in your constituency alone believe this...", put together a petition or asked their members to write letters themselves. The first two would have meant the MP has one letter to answer (and answer the letter he must, if only to ensure he doesn't develop a reputation of ignoring his constituents altogether). The last option would - with the possible exception of really controversial issues - almost never have resulted in a deluge of correspondence because while lots of people may feel strongly enough about something to sign a petition, relatively few are likely to feel strongly enough to write a letter, put a stamp on it and post it.

Today. however, anyone can throw together a website with an email form that sends directly to a particular email address, and the amount of effort involved for the end user (particularly if most of the email is pre-written as a template) is little more than signing the petition they might have done in the past. The end result is that it's quite easy to find an MP is deluged with emails from individual constituents all basically saying the same thing - ultimately, the MP may be faced with a stark choice:

  • Ignore such emails. Not good - next thing you know there's a campaign of 500 people saying how Fred Bloggs MP didn't even have the good manners to acknowledge them.
  • Reply to each email with a form letter. Not much better - form letters tend to stick out a mile and the MP knows it.
  • Reply to each email individually. Except now your MP needs a 28 hour day to get everything done in.
  • Have an assistant draft the replies and just sign them. Or, if feeling really smart, obtain the use of an autopen machine. This is the closest thing anyone's likely to find to a real answer, and I imagine is what most MPs do. But your MP still needs to drill through the correspondence and instruct his/her assistant - well and good if the morning's email contained 10 emails needing a reply, but never going to scale if it contained 200.

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201392)

And your point is? Democracy isn't cheap. There will always be low value communications, but and most people agree that that is a valid (but maybe not the most preferable) method of voicing support or disapproval of an issue to your MP. The issue here is that the MP stopped publishing his email so his other constituents would lose email access to their MP.

The previous reply hits the nail on the head. What MPs should be doing is to find ways of managing this, either by managing email in a much better fashion, or to divert such requests to a site in which meaningful data can be gathered. He or she can even arrange a short question session to address the concerns of all these people at once so that individual responses to form letters can be avoided.

Re:lemme get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201740)

That's two comments in a row you've begun with the words "And your point is?", followed by a reply to the point they made - suggesting: a) they made the point perfectly well; b) they made it well enough to make you respond.

Please, drop the "And your point is?" silliness. It just makes you look like a snarky twat.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

samjam (256347) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201412)

"Today. however, anyone can throw together a website with an email form that sends directly to a particular email address"
sure, but it takes more effort than to go and buy a stamp, doesn't it.

And then you have to find voters who are bothered enough to use the said website.

If voters are using the site it's because it represents them better than the MP does.

This MP is trying to ignore voters who already have had to go to great lengths to be heard - double fail to the MP!

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201570)

It's the "squeaky wheel" principle, but with an amplifier.

Hmmm, wonder if I can patent that.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202094)

If there are too many constituent correspondences for the MP to handle, then either the MP is doing something wrong (if nobody else is complaining) or he has too many constituents in his seat and it should be broken up. The way to fix that is not to make constituents jump through hoops to put them off speaking to him, which seems to be what Mr Raabs is trying to do. I wonder what he'd do if he then started receiving the same volume of correspondences in writing (considering it's a lot more effort to open all those envelopes, not to mention the cost to pen, print and post the responses), maybe insist on carrier pigeon or some other obfuscated communication method? These MPs should be welcoming new communication channels and embracing every opportunity to engage with a usually apathetic populace.

I Disagree. (1)

Jaydee23 (1741316) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201336)

If you actually care about your politics or campaign, then write to your MP direct. Simply filling in a form and spamming MP's simply stops the people who do care from communicating with their MP. Taking your argument to its logical conclusion, we should just have an arms race between different lobby groups who would automatically send every MP a million emails a day just to show how much we care about an issue.

Re:I Disagree. (2, Insightful)

samjam (256347) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201424)

I disagree - "simply filling out a form and spamming" is not simple, nor is it spamming any more than "simply writing a letter and spamming" is simple or spamming.

Looking at your argument, there is an arms race, and you have to ask why voters are having to do this to be noticed? Clue: look at the response by the MP now he is noticing them as a group that had to coordinate - yes, before he could ignore them singly, now he chooses to ignore them in bulk.

Re:I Disagree. (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201430)

See my post above. MPs should seriously reconsider their operations model in the internet age. They need to be savvy and know how to use things like email filters to group and sort form submitted email and set up methods in which people that do submit these emails can voice their opinion and have a meaningful debate with his or her constituents on the issue.

Our ageing model of representative democracy needs to embrace change. As people are more connected and instant communications easier, we are edging towards a more direct model of representation. Politicians need to acknowledge that and make do as opposed to pushing back.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

Stellian (673475) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201578)

The main point is that it's impossible for a politician to know if he's spammed by a large part of his voters as opposed to a noisy minority employing automated tools. As such, any repetitive mail will be ignored. And rightfully so, else we will quickly end up with the "Subsidized Penile Enhancement act of 2010" - it's clearly what the people want.

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201830)

And your point is? Email from these pressure groups are in no way invalid if they are from his constituents. Just because a Tory politician doesn't agree with the stance taken by pressure groups such as 38 degrees, doesn't give him the right to withdraw a valuable communications channel to his constituents. You can be sure that if those emails are in support of the MPs pet project, he would be openly inviting more email correspondence.

Let me put this in perspective by giving you an easier to visualize methaphor:
- Imagine that an MP sets up an open session with his constituents, maybe in a local town hall which takes 200 people.
- His intention is to get questions from members of the public and answer the as best as he can, maybe picking up some of the cases he hears about and checking int them further.
- During the whole session, there is a group of 10 people which came in together and spend the whole time shouting out loud how they want something specific done, drowning everybody else during the whole session and pretty much not letting anybody else be heard.

Those 10 people represent only 5% of everybody in that hall and (due to self-selection, since they gathered and came together on purpose) represent a much smaller proportion of the overall voters in the constituency.

This is basically what some "pressure groups" do, only they do it via e-mail. While they do deserve a voice, they do not deserve to be heard above and over other constituents.

In my example above, if the 10 people disturbing the open session were not forcefully thrown out (probably by the other constituents that also came in to voice their problems), then the MP would simply stop it after a while. If this kept happening, he would never do one of those open sessions again.

That said, in the e-mail case the MP's solution for this should not have been to remove his e-mail address from the site. Instead he should set up a blacklist of abusers of the system (preferably automatic) which would simply send those e-mails to an alternative low priority queue (such as a different e-mail address) which would only be looked at when the normal queue was empty.

If he really wanted to be fair, people would be removed from the blacklist after not abusing the system for a while.

This would neatly turn e-mail spamming into a self-defeating technique if done frequently.

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Insightful)

Malc (1751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201978)

It doesn't really matter whether these groups are valid or not. Their complaint that the loss of the recent addition of email contact is ridiculous. If they care about their cause, then why does it matter that it costs money? Stationary and stamps cost very little, unless they're in the business of bulking mailing or spamming, in which it's probably better all around that they can't use email for contact.

I should point out that in Canada a stamp isn't required to contact one's MP. If it's such a big deal to this group, then perhaps they should lobby for a similar policy in the UK.

Completely agree (2, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201140)

Any MP will tell you one well written letter in an envelope with a stamp is worth uncounted numbers of emails, because someone has bothered to communicate, and where one person takes action, many others think the same but cannot be bothered. In a democracy, we should express our views by voting, or demonstrating, not by spamming. Sites like 38degrees could easily be more responsible, but they suffer from a degree of self-righteousness that (to them) justifies encouraging annoying behaviour.

Where I live, we have a very effective resident's pressure group. We have one person who directly contacts councillors, one person who is a planning specialist, and access to legal and scientific information. The rest of us supply funds and do the office jobs. We also have a fund big enough to apply for legal injunctions. This is extremely effective; local Government gets one targeted message, and they know that it has considerable real support.

Re:Completely agree (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201190)

Any MP will tell you one well written letter in an envelope with a stamp is worth uncounted numbers of emails, because someone has bothered to communicate, and where one person takes action, many others think the same but cannot be bothered.

Sorry, but some of us painstakingly write carefully-thought-out e-mails to our MPs. There's a difference between a cut-and-paste job and an e-mail that's had effort put into it. Indiscriminately stopping constituents from e-mailing you is ridiculous in the 21st century.

Re:Completely agree (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202216)

I totally agree - considering we're all being told to be more green and that MPs are trying to push out widespread broadband it's totally counter-intuitive if they're then going to tell us not to send emails. I'd be surprised if the MP doesn't have a civil servant filtering out the dross anyway, if his workload is still too high maybe he chose the wrong vocation, most MPs would be happy to have constituents that are so engaged in the political process.

Re:Completely agree (2, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201370)

Any MP will tell you one well written letter in an envelope with a stamp is worth uncounted numbers of emails, because someone has bothered to communicate, and where one person takes action, many others think the same but cannot be bothered.

Really? My MP often replies to my emails (and I think about what I write) within hours.
I first emailed her (and the other candidates) during the election campaign to find out their views on issues important to me - my previous MP used to even reply to my tweets! Most MPs are getting as used to new technology as the rest of the public, they know that 99% of people don't use snail mail anymore. Just because it's email doesn't mean it's thoughtless or meaningless.
Of course, you're right that they used to think that way, but for the wrong reasons - Write to them [writetothem.com] appends a hash of your email address and words to the effect of "signed in accordance with digital communications act 19xx" because MPs didn't trust 'letters' without a signature. It's because they didn't understand the technology, not because they can be spammed, after all it's not hard to post a letter.

Marshall McLuhan (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201528)

It depends on your relationship with your MP. My wife knows our MP well and yes, she will get rapid replies to emails. But I was specifically writing in the context of people sending off emails as a result of stuff read on pressure group websites.

Re:Completely agree (3, Informative)

rapiddescent (572442) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201386)

I am a community councillor in my town in Scotland (an unpaid elected voluntary position). I basically listen to the public of my town and then talk directly to the politicians. It works well; myself and my community councillor colleagues have a good working relationship with individuals in local government and the scottish government and we have solved a lot of issues.

I'd amend the GPP's post to say:
1. personal, cordial contact works best - usually through an elected rep, e.g. community councillor
2. a handwritten letter - (with evidence or citations attached)
3. newspaper story
4. through a "recognised" pressure group, e.g. Citizens Advice, RSPCA etc
...

34 written on the side of a cow
...

568. email campaign

Re: side of a cow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33202512)

I would like to know more about this protocol!

Re:lemme get this straight (3, Informative)

mister_dave (1613441) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201174)

The MP in this case was wrong to have his official e-mail address taken off the Parliamentary website.

He seems to have been following advice on how to opt-out of spam: [blogspot.com]

The reason I stopped formally advertising my actual email address is that the Information Commissioner's Office advised me that, if I do, I am putting it in the public domain and then cannot ask for it to be removed from mass e-distribution lists or automated systems.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201044)

a public official doesn't want to be contacted by the public? No one likes to hear the peasants out. Where's the story here?

No he doesn't want to be deluged in shit by a multitude of "campaign" sites. Quite understandable really. The public most MPs want to hear from are the people who elected them in their borough not some random lunatic cutting and pasting a form letter from a website.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201080)

a public official doesn't want to be contacted by the public? No one likes to hear the peasants out. Where's the story here?

No he doesn't want to be deluged in shit by a multitude of "campaign" sites. Quite understandable really. The public most MPs want to hear from are the people who elected them in their borough not some random lunatic cutting and pasting a form letter from a website.

What about some lunatic who elected them in their constituency cutting and pasting a form letter from a website?

Re:lemme get this straight (2, Insightful)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201130)

Lobbying just isnt lobbying unless there are huge sums of money being tossed around. Am I right?

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

Leynos (172919) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201162)

When you send an email from one of these web sites, you're supposed to email your own MP, not one picked at random. Therefore, the emails he is talking about are from his own constituents.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201644)

When you send an email from one of these web sites, you're supposed to email your own MP, not one picked at random.

Or the site itself could pick the MP from the address/postcode details entered.

Therefore, the emails he is talking about are from his own constituents.

Which MPs (or their staff) should be able to trivially verify against the electoral register.
Another thing is that even with "form letters" 38 degrees encourages people to add additional comments.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201778)

Yes you're supposed to, doesn't mean you actually have to, or that the MP has any easy of verifying you are you say you are, or that your views are representative of constituents, or that multiple people in the constituency should be spamming the MP with substantially identical form letters as part of a campaign.

The 38 degrees site claims to have sent "tens of thousands of emails" for just one recent campaign. Which means every single MP on average received at least 15 substantially identical emails and probably more. That's just one website and just one campaign. I would not be surprised if MPs receive upwards of 30-50 such boiler plate emails every day and more again from commercial lobby groups.

It's no wonder an MP might wish to remove their address from campaign sites. Just because they are a public representative doesn't mean they should have to listen, process or respond to essentially political spam.

Re:lemme get this straight (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202286)

So block those sites and send them a notice explaining that if the constituents want to email directly from their own accounts that is fine. That way you cut out spam from the sites but you don't stop people who really want to get in touch (and if the sites are responsible they will explain to users that they need to email the following address [...]). Seriously, if Parliament can't find a way to do something as common place as deal with spam, we're all in trouble.

He actually reads those mails? (3, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200684)

I always had the idea that politicians do not read the mails that are sent to them - the higher up the chain the less likely. I would expect them to have a bunch of aides who actually go through those mails, categorise them, and regularly hand summaries to the politician, or forward really important ones directly to his actual private e-mail.

A national politician reading all mails sent by constituents by himself is doing something wrong imho. He has better things to do than spending all day reading mails, as I expect that he will get lots of mails.

Re:He actually reads those mails? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33200830)

A national politician reading all mails sent by constituents by himself is doing something wrong imho. He has better things to do than spending all day reading mails...

Oh, really? Name two.

Re:He actually reads those mails? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201530)

1) Debate.
2) Legislature.

Re:He actually reads those mails? (3, Informative)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200876)

It depends on the politician and/or the body I suppose. As far as I can tell, our parliamentarians in Sweden don't have such aides. Not that they will necessarily respond to your emaisl, but they will answer the phone if you call them... (But then we're only 9 million people, and very few would ever bother sending an email, much less call an MP, I am however one of those few)

Re:He actually reads those mails? (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200952)

I don't know. While it may be a hell of a lot of work, I think they also owe it to the people to be contactable, so the people can express their wishes. The only person I would really exempt is someone like the president of a country, where they represent every single person in the country (which can be an impossibly large number). However, pretty much anyone else should be making the effort, as their number of constituents will be more manageable.

Re:He actually reads those mails? (1)

andr00oo (915001) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201022)

I know for a fact that neither Senator Conroy nor anyone in his office ever read any of my emails.

I know this because they replied to each one (eventually) with some form letter that addressed none of the issues I'd raised and was often very wide of the mark. In fact that's pretty standard for everything I sent the Rudd/Gillard government.

Non-garbage In -> Garbage Out.

Re:He actually reads those mails? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201108)

Non-garbage In -> Garbage Out.

Soo ... it's like tech support of all major internet-based corporations?

Re:He actually reads those mails? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201372)

It sounds like his department. I can't remember how many of his media releases got tagged by SpamAssassin, but they looked like they were using spammers to send the things. The man's a muppet and his department / staff look the same. Just be glad you got a form letter without the mail-merge fields. Dear $WHINGER...

Re:He actually reads those mails? (2, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201240)

The UK's political system is rather different from the US, however. We directly elect our representative (who becomes a Member of Parliament, or MP) by a simple majority - whoever has the most votes in an area is the MP for that area. (This can actually mean that a fairly unpopular person becomes MP, if the votes are split 30:28:28:14, the candidate with 30% of the vote becomes MP even though 70% of the people in the area didn't want him. We don't have a two-party system, so this can easily happen.)

The party with 50% or more of the elected MPs forms the government - the party leader becomes Prime Minister and s/he hands out positions within government to MPs. The most senior MPs form the cabinet - a sort of steering committee, if you like, given that it'd be pretty hard to have an intelligent group meeting of the 300 or so MPs a ruling party would have. This system ensures that the party in power can generally get legislation passed relatively easily - few MPs make a habit of voting against the party line, it's an extremely good way to find yourself kicked out of the party.

What's happened recently (though it's not directly related to this discussion) is that no single party has 50% of the elected MPs. So no single party commands a majority in Parliament. What happens then is that two parties whose votes together add up to more than 50% agree to form a coalition - a government comprised of MPs from two parties.

Re:He actually reads those mails? (2, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201282)

Dunno in my neck of the woods my MP reads all of his mail, his email is handled by his secretary. He's been doing a pretty good job for the last 8 years we've had him(considering he was a very well liked police chief), who got what he stated, done.

Re:He actually reads those mails? (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201414)

I always had the idea that politicians do not read the mails that are sent to them - the higher up the chain the less likely. I would expect them to have a bunch of aides who actually go through those mails, categorise them, and regularly hand summaries to the politician, or forward really important ones directly to his actual private e-mail.

A national politician reading all mails sent by constituents by himself is doing something wrong imho. He has better things to do than spending all day reading mails, as I expect that he will get lots of mails.

I know mine reads hers as she replied from her personal email account indicating she's set up some forwarding rules system so she doesn't have to check multiple email accounts every day.

two e-mails a day?! (3, Funny)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200724)

even "less than 2 a day on average", as they said... it's ridiculous. If I received that amount of e-mails from someone, it would mean I am spending at least half a day (each day) working on something that is a collaboration or something.

That would still irritate me (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200804)

If I got two unsolicited emails a day from the same sender, day after day, it would really get on my nerves. Posts above say "boo hoo he gets two emails a day" when in fact it is from a single site. No sympathy for his "God damn ordinary people" attitude but still, how many times have you been unable to stop an email sender who doesn't care about your opinion? Spam filter would be the solution that seems to be lacking, but then the negative story would be "politician bins a pressure group's informative daily emails".

TFB (0, Troll)

Chas (5144) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200868)

This is a serious "my pussy hurts" moment.

He's a public official being contacted BY MEMBERS OF HIS CONSTITUENCY through an e-mail account that's being subsidized by taxpayers SPECIFICALLY for the purpose of making him accessible to his constituency.

Were this his PRIVATE e-mail address, he'd have a legitimate bitch. But this isn't the case.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, but fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

Re:That would still irritate me (2, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200924)

If I got two unsolicited emails a day from the same sender, day after day, it would really get on my nerves.

Maybe this is why you aren't getting elected? If you are not an MP, your "pissed-off of same person writing you twice a day" reaction is not relevant for the issue at hand, as legitimate as it is for the case of a private person and as much as I empathise with you (I really do, but this is also irrelevant)

For an MP (public person), the situation cannot be the same: I'm quite afraid that supporting the nuisance of receiving mails from a pressure group really does come with the position of MP. After all, a MP is supposed to represent the interest of the people that elected him or his party, I consider deliberately ignoring the email as a mission failure.

Re:That would still irritate me (1)

Leynos (172919) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201572)

The thing is, it's not the same person. It's his constituents, using a tool to enable them to contact him about issues they feel are pressing. The fact that these people are using the same tool to communicate is irrelevant.

Re:That would still irritate me (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201870)

I think they have some sort of requirement to read them, not bin them, maybe even to reply as well. I wrote a couple of letters to my MP when I lived there (by post - this was the 1980s). Both times I got a canned response letter.

email address (5, Informative)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200848)

raabd@parliament.uk dominic.raab.mp@parliament.uk

Re:email address (3, Informative)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200976)

and dom.raab@yahoo.co.uk

Junk Mail (1, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200850)

The group provides a service by which people can automatically email their MP on certain issues

A friend who worked in a U.S. congressman's office said that these sorts of "constituent contacts" are a complete waste of time. Ditto for "send this postcard to your lawmaker", form letters, online petitions (of the "we have a voice!" type, not the legal process type), etc. Any kind of preprinted form contact (whether electronic or written) is generally ignored because the lobbying groups who generate them can do so at will. e.g., Right to Life or NARAL can at any time run a campaign and get thousands of postcards or form emails sent to the congressman. The lower the barrier to send (with email form letters being the lowest), the more likely to end up being completely ignored. These types of contacts are also very easy to fake.

On the other hand, a personally written letter or phone call is given whatever miniscule attention the congressman's office usually gives to constituent contacts...i.e., very little unless you are a major contributor, but at least it's not automatically routed to trash.

Re:Junk Mail (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200904)

i.e., very little unless you are a major contributor,

Very little is not zero though. If 1000 people write to an MP/congressman about beekeepers subsidies or whatever, then generally this will be brought to his attention.

Re:Junk Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201180)

Once again, as the parent said - if he receives 1000 form letters from a campaign, they would get routed to the trash, and may have even less impact than one sincere letter. And if there is one sincere letter plus a campaign of 1000 form letters, then that one letter might get thrown out with the rest of the spam.

Re:Junk Mail (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201262)

On the other hand, a personally written letter or phone call is given whatever miniscule attention the congressman's office usually gives to constituent contacts...i.e., very little unless you are a major contributor, but at least it's not automatically routed to trash.

I have completely the opposite experience.

The UK system doesn't rely on individual contributions anything like as heavily as the US system. (Well, actually it does rely on them to a certain extent but it's nothing like as obvious - frankly, from what I've heard I'd describe the US system as formalised corruption) - if you write to your MP with a tangible issue that's likely to be impacting a number of people in their constituency and not too controversial, as I indeed have, you may very well get serious attention. OK, the serious attention may be little more than a letter written by an assistant and sent to somebody important but that somebody important is far more likely to take a letter from Fred Bloggs MP seriously than they are to take a letter from you or me.

Re:Junk Mail (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201350)

I don't remember where I heard it, but I heard that at least one Congressman's office, any handwritten letters go directly to the Congressman's desk (presumably after being screened for anthrax, etc., of course). Form-filled/pre-printed letter probably were fast-tracked for the trash.

Re:Junk Mail (4, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201456)

On the other hand, a personally written letter or phone call is given whatever miniscule attention the congressman's office usually gives to constituent contacts...i.e., very little unless you are a major contributor, but at least it's not automatically routed to trash.

My MP has replied every time I've emailed her, a couple of times within hours - then again, I put some thought into my emails to her and contact her about specific issues. Having said that, I don't see the problem with form emails - just send form replies.

Re:Junk Mail (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202390)

Maybe it's just me but I've always treated any petition in exactly the same way:

- Classmates "petitioning" to be allowed not to wear uniforms.
- Facebook "petitions" to honour some mass murderer who went on a rampage with a gun then shot himself (Incidentally: Ah, diddums...)
- "Petitions" to stop Hotmail charging for their service.
- People who stop me in the street and expect me to be as riled about their cause as they are.
- Petitions to the No10 website, or direct to MP's.

They are all a 100% waste of time. Most of the things they demand are never going to happen, or weren't going to happen as they stated anyway. Most of the times their facts are completely wrong, their opinions far too blinkered (very self-involved, most petitions) and their solutions pathetic. The petitions website for 10 Downing Street is hilarious... basically everyone asking them to dissolve government, or give them a million pounds, or implement a compulsory Naked Thursday, and they get hundreds of thousands of names - your anti-abortion, or whatever, petition with a couple of hundred names at the bottom is much more deserving of attention than sitting in that list, or in some MP's office.

To paraphrase Terry Pratchett - anything that someone has had time to write down and send to you isn't important - it's when you have people standing in front of you, banging your desk with their fist and shouting that you REALLY have to do something. I don't agree with the specifics of that, but the mood is about right. No amount of silly anonymous memos will motivate me to do something but if someone comes and takes the time to ask, describe their problem and understand the consequences, then they get ALL my attention immediately.

I'm afraid that even hearing the word "petition" puts me in mind of schoolkids "petitioning" to scrap homework, or irate working-class mothers yelling on street corners about "having a paedo that lives down the road" while holding a clipboard. I *automatically* know that I don't give a shit about it. Electronic petitions - hell, I now give even less of a shit because any idiot can click a million times on "Stop them charging for Facebook!!!!" buttons. MP's probably do have a duty to listen to all this gumpfh - and, seriously, get yourself a spam filter and a secretary - but what good do you think it will actually DO?

ID cards, ContactPoint, Heathrow's extra runway, etc. were not affected by petitions for YEARS. What stopped them is voter apathy (and thus people voting with their feet), focus on public spending wastage (not done by petitions to stop paying MP's), and people actually providing valid reasons why not (because the schemes are useless and a waste of time, for instance). In some cases even ignoring the entire scheme works more wonders than any amount of petitions (ID cards - how many people actually signed up to the "trial"? After that, it's almost impossible to actually implement the plans with a straight face).

The population aren't, on the whole, as stupid as some people would think. Nobody wanted ID cards, nobody wanted ContactPoint, there has NOT been a big fuss over scrapping them. Showing contempt for a scheme and ignoring it generates more results than silly petitions. Poll tax in the UK died because something like 30% of people refused to pay it even when it was a legal requirement and enforced heavily. Even protests carry infinitely more weight than a petition but they are just as useless - anyone who's used Trafalgar Square for the past however-many Wednesdays knows the hassle caused and the absolutely mute response from the government because of the pettiness of the issue (how many people that don't use Trafalgar Square actually knew what that was about?). The anti-war protests outside Parliament got moved on after a long time because, basically, everyone was bored of seeing them there. They achieved precisely zip. Rioting etc. solves even less problems - in fact, it just makes the cause that the rioters are fighting for seem ruthless, uncaring and immature.

Petitions are childish things from people that can't be bothered to do more than sign a stroppy letter. They can't even be imaginative enough to write their own letter, write about the problems from their own personal view, etc. They attract (and deserve) zero attention, especially when they are so easy to create and so many of them exist for every issue imaginable. Don't give me a piece of paper to sign, give me reasons, give me research, give me avenues of compromise, give me alternatives, give me results. A two-minute item on the news with a decent "protester" / "petitioner" who can talk their way through the argument and provide a reasonable discussion does infinitely more than any amount of "BUT NO, YOU'RE WRONG!", or paper, or emails.

I've had to educate my girlfriend about this - she is foreign and never wants to make a fuss, so when there are problems with the letting agent she sends a carefully worded email and then crosses her fingers for the next six months. That's how I see "petitions". Being British, I instead rang them 27 times, even when they kept hanging up on me because they started to recognise my voice, demand simple answers to my VERY simple (and actually not even unreasonable) questions - concerning an overflowing sewer, remind them of the law and their actual obligations (not hanging up on your tenant when they are reporting a problem would be a start), escalate the problem to everything/everyone I can find (and gain the interest of several government watchdogs in doing so - P.S. don't create hassle for the people who pay YOU the money, and don't do it when your own website is absent of several legally-required company identifications - I wouldn't have even noticed or cared if they hadn't been such arseholes, and now they have to pay to modify their website to comply with a government department that WILL be fining them if not), and cause them as much general hassle as practically possible. I wasn't even slightly rude or abusive, I didn't need to swear, I didn't need to threaten, I just caused them so much hassle until they did what they were required to do. Did it take six months? By 9am the morning after I phoned, my problem was resolved by an external contractor brought in on an emergency visit at their expense. After nearly a YEAR of writing letters / emails about the same problem.

It got so much attention, in fact, that the actual owner of the property contacted us and, after a brief discussion, immediately ditched the letting agent (who had apparently not been passing on our rent to the owner for many months), apologised for their behaviour, dealt with us directly, came and visited us in person once a month to ensure everything was okay and repainted the house too. He's still our landlord, and he's very nice.

Actions (reasonable, legal, actions) speak MUCH louder than words. And words speak MUCH louder than letters. And letters speak MUCH louder than emails.

Dude... (0, Redundant)

kikito (971480) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200866)

Get another email adress. They are free.

I foresee a stark future for the MP (2, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200962)

I foresee a stark future for the MP. One where his mailbox is filled to overflowing daily with links to wikipedia's page on the Streisand Effect.

Can't ignore it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33200970)

He has an obligation to read his e-mail, nuisance mails or not. What he needs is a techie to write a filter that adds up repeat e-mails and only sends him one that aggregates all those received in a day/week/year, etc. because it's the number of e-mails that counts. It's like petitioning, but 38 degrees aren't collecting the signatories but just passing them on straight away to the MP, well that is annoying for the MP, it's not his job. Besides, there's not much point in the 38 degrees site, if you want to lobby government, they have their own site for doing it http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ [number10.gov.uk]

Re:Can't ignore it (1)

CyberDragon777 (1573387) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201762)

Dear [MP name here]

I am [Sender name here] from [Sender city here] and I am writing to you because of:

[10000 characters of stuff, exactly the same that he gets several times every day]

Thank you!
[Sender name here]

Yeah, I'm sure this gets annoying after a while.

Shell out for a stamp? (4, Informative)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 4 years ago | (#33200990)

I cannot speak for the UK, but you don't need to add postage to letters addressed to your MPs in Canada. Even if such a rule does not exist in the UK, I would imagine that the postal service would have an unwritten commitment to deliver mail addressed to MPs regardless of affixed postage.

So if you can't spend the pennies on a sheet of paper and envelope, and can't invest the five minutes to walk to a postal box, I really must ask if that essential comment to your MP is really essential or just another example of UBE.

Re:Shell out for a stamp? (3, Interesting)

mister_dave (1613441) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201222)

In the UK, if you send an unstamped letter to someone, the recipient has to pay the postage.

One of my MEPs shot himself in the foot a couple of years ago, he sent out unstamped letters to his electors after the election, and they had to pay the postage (if they wanted the letter), only to discover it was junk mail! So we all got a follow up apology letter, with some unused stamps as compensation. :-)

Re:Shell out for a stamp? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202466)

I propose that everyone prints out a copy of the Wikipedia Streisand effect article, and posts it to him with no stamp attached.

Re:Shell out for a stamp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201594)

They will deliver it, they'll just try to fine the recipient (£1 + actual postage cost I think?) - if this is an MP, they probably won't pay, and the letter will just get pulped.

Re:Shell out for a stamp? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202496)

That ignores all of the other benefits of email. It's greener than shipping paper around the country, it's convenient for people who work, it's inclusive for the elderly or less abled who actually might have physical difficulty getting to the post box. You can generally get an instant response to let you know your message got through, you might even get a real response in less than a day as opposed to several days for snail mail. It's easier to save and organise your correspondance, and you don't have to be physically at home to read any replies (useful if you've ever had to spend weeks away from home for work purposes, etc). Not to mention you put the minor annoying barrier of printing and posting your letter in place (and in doing so throw out all the previously discussed benefits), there's still no guarantee that the letter is worthwhile - the guy's hoping to decrease the quantity of the communication, he doesn't care about improving the quality, you may just as well say if you really cared about your message you'd take the time to learn caligraphy, or to carve it on rock, or to train a carrier pigeon.

Frost p1st (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201028)

metadiscuusions of all legitimate

Dominic Raab / Information (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201062)

For a new MP in this session (he was elected as MP for Esher and Walton in the 2010 election) you'd think he would have had better PR, especially with a background as a Lawyer and a few years in the Foreign office.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominic_Raab

Voting record is already a bit shoddy, absent from 10 of the 49 possible votes so far this year, and seems to be a backbencher, so its not like he's got anything else to do except deal with his expenses, vote when required (he's a True Blue Tory Boy - 100% loyal to party lines when he does vote) and deal with his constiuency voter's issues.

http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Dominic_Raab&mpc=Esher_and_Walton&house=commons&display=everyvote#divisions

Paging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201132)

Paging Dr Streisand...

Re:Paging (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201402)

Your paging the wrong doctor. That should be Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine and Dr. Howard.

popfile (2, Interesting)

Monoecus (1761264) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201166)

Why not using a program like popfile (http://getpopfile.org/)?

Could be worse... (3, Interesting)

AmonTheMetalhead (1277044) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201188)

In Belgium someone was tried & convicted for stalking a city office because he kept mailing them....


The guy dared send them 130 or so mails over a period of 5 years, the bloody criminal!

Dutch article [nieuwsblad.be]
Google translated version [google.com]

Re:Could be worse... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201544)

That's over two per month, what a nutter!

Seriously, I get more unsolicited phone calls (which are much more obtrusive compared to emails) than that. Can I have some money please?

This guy should shut up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33201632)

...as long as he expects the constituency to put up with all the nonsense his government produces, he should put up with the nonsense the contituency produces. Fair is fair.

I heard him being interviewed about this yesterday (4, Informative)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201844)

First point, he hasn't "removed his address from the Parliamentary website", he's actually had to disable the address.

He says he'll re-enable it when the website he's complaining about remove it from a drop-down list they have on a form - people with too much time on their hands pick an issue from one drop-down, pick an MP from another, type in their name and postcode and hit "send", which means that for every "real" email he gets from someone who is capable of writing down their own complaint or issue he has to plough through 200-odd auto-generated from this site. (Figures are ballpark - I wasn't listening *that* closely...)

It's the "campaigning" equivalent of SPAM marketing, just as annoying and with a law of diminishing returns. He told the guy running the site on PM (UK news show) yesterday that he had no problem with them publishing his address on their site and asking people to get in touch if they had a problem, he just objects to the automated system that encourages bored people to nag an MP about "something".

Arent they your constituents ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201928)

you moron ? maybe you havent realized that emails come from actual people.

I heard him talking about this on the radio. (-1, Redundant)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#33201936)

(This is my second attempt to post this... Last time it posted with no name or subject and vanished when I refreshed the page... :-/)

First point. He hasn't just taken the address "off the Parliamentary website", he's actually had to disable the address.

He's asking the people running the campaigning website to take his address out of a drop-down list in a form on their site. They are refusing to. The page on the site lets anyone with too much time on their hands pick a subject from one drop-down, an MP from another, enter their name and postcode and hit "Send" to automatically generate a long and verbose email. It's the campaigning equivalent of SPAM marketing. He claims that for every "real" email he gets from someone with a grievance or issue he has to plough through something like 200 generated by this website. (Ballpark figure, I wasn't listening that closely)

Live on "PM" (UK news show) last night he told the folk running the campaigning site that he had no problem with them publishing his address on their site so that people who felt strongly about something could contact him, but he wouldn't re-enable it until they took him off the "automated mailing" page.

I heard him on the radio yesterday. (-1, Redundant)

Peet42 (904274) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202002)

(This is my third attempt to post this... Last twice it posted with no name or subject and vanished when I refreshed the page... I've cleared my cookies now. :-/)

First point. He hasn't just taken the address "off the Parliamentary website", he's actually had to disable the address.

He's asking the people running the campaigning website to take his address out of a drop-down list in a form on their site. They are refusing to. The page on the site lets anyone with too much time on their hands pick a subject from one drop-down, an MP from another, enter their name and postcode and hit "Send" to automatically generate a long and verbose email. It's the campaigning equivalent of SPAM marketing. He claims that for every "real" email he gets from someone with a grievance or issue he has to plough through something like 200 generated by this website. (Ballpark figure, I wasn't listening that closely)

Live on "PM" (UK news show) last night he told the folk running the campaigning site that he had no problem with them publishing his address on their site so that people who felt strongly about something could contact him, but he wouldn't re-enable it until they took him off the "automated mailing" page.

You know when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33202010)

http://youve-been-cromwelled.org/ :D Very cool site I like the idea of giving them a constant booting.

How these pressure groups should work... (3, Insightful)

awjr (1248008) | more than 4 years ago | (#33202182)

If a pressure group has a specific issue to address, rather than ask their members to spam their MPs, they should collect signatories and then submit one email to the MPs whose constituants have signed up. The email should also list the set of MPs to whom the email has been sent. It should also provide a respone email address which will distribute the response to the sigantories. If really clever, then the MPs in question come up with a reasoned response each or one official one for each party.

Instead we have this pressure group sending out 700 emails to each of the 600 odd MPs who then have to create an individual response and most need to respond in writing. The cost is enormous.

I can understand why this MP is asking his constituants to write to him. It takes effort. You really have to care about the issue. Sending off an email is easy. Writing a letter and putting in the post shows you actually care.

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