Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fake Surveys

The American Civil Liberties Union sent me a fake survey today.  That sort of fundraising is always annoying.  If you've never gotten one of these types of fundraising appeals before, then consider yourself very fortunate.

You're also probably an alien from Mars.  I seem to get at least one fake survey a week from one organization or another.

Basically, the solicitation consists of asking a bunch of loaded questions designed to stoke your indignation until you're ready to open up your purse, wallet, mattress, or backyard (wherever you keep your money--I make no judgment).  For example, in the survey that I received today, I am asked, "The ACLU is using lawsuits and other forms of legal action to challenge the constitutionality of the government's actions and to insist that the courts demand adherence to the Constitution and rule of law" and given four responses about how important I think that is, from "Very Important" to "Not Important At All".

I can't imagine that many people who get this survey would mark the answer to that question "Not Important At All", and if you're going to fill out the survey at all, then you're likely even more concerned about those sort of issues. 

However, that's the problem.  I feel bad for anyone who actually does fill out the survey, as I suspect that the ACLU hardly glances at it while looking for the true information the return envelope contains:  that person's check or credit card number.  When I searched the ACLU's website, I certainly couldn't find any results from last year's survey.  If it were that "vitally important to the success of [their] work", then the results would be up on their website.

I suspect the absence of the results is because there aren't any results.  Who is really going to tally up a handmarked survey, especially if one receives thousands of them?  The ACLU have an electronic version of the survey on their website though, so many they keep some data from that.

Possibly, a tally of suckers gullible enough to waste their time filling out a fake survey.

Presumably, this strategy works though.  The fundraising folks know what appeals to people generally and what will generate a higher rate of return, and, apparently, filling out a survey fires people up.

I don't mean to pick on the ACLU specifically.  They're a fine organization, and just about every organization like them uses this fake survey bit to raise money.

But I do have an answer for all those surveys that are really just fundraising appeals.

It's no.  Just beg.  It's more dignified.  Don't pretend that you care what I think when you really don't.  Perhaps one day when I'm very bored, I will contact the ACLU to get some results from the survey.  That might be amusing.  Maybe they can just fake the results as well.

In the meantime, I have a survey of my own though for the organizations who like to use fake surveys.

Will you please quit doing the fake survey bit?

Monday, May 5, 2014

What Wred's Currently Reading: The Sound And The Fury by William Faulkner

Yeah, I've read this before, a couple of times in fact, but I had to make some room on my bookcase (as a recovering packrat, I only permit myself so much room for books), so my ducttaped together, yellowed, and somewhat musty (it came that way except for the ducttape, which was an improvement over pages falling out and spilling all over the floor) paperback copy of The Sound And The Fury and I are parting ways. I can't remember when I got this copy, but it had to be twenty years ago or so, and, based on the writing inside, it belonged before to someone named Martha Evans. My guess is that my copy of Faulkner's 1929 masterpiece was published later in the 1960s (it lists Faulkner's death in the back but has no UPC and just seems like a 1960s paperback). I don't know what Martha thought of it, but I've always enjoyed this novel. It might be my favorite of Faulkner's. When I first read it, I found the opening Benjy sequence to be very confusing, but now that I know what to expect, it might be the funnest portion, if fun is an applicable way to describe this book. I'd probably be better off reading the Norton edition advertised below, but, you know how it is, when something's been with you for a number of years, you grow fond of it, so I'm giving it one last read before it goes out the door.