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Net polls: Do they really mean anything?
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 11/05/1999 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
I’m ticked off at telephone marketing and telephone polltakers.
Given such frustration, Internet polling appears to have potential.
Compared with phone polls, chances are high that I will provide answers
to an Internet poll. I have done it; I would do it again. If for no
other reason than to simply encourage these polling companies to use the
Web and stop calling me.
Internet polls seem like a good way to accumulate polling statistics.
There’s probably an Internet company right now planning an IPO based on
a Web-based polling site or technology. (There’s always an Internet
company planning an IPO somewhere.)
Imagine if everyone tomorrow just agreed to hang up on those hired
guns paid to interrupt your evening. The only thing left for them to
turn to would be the Net, a less-intrusive means of gathering
information at a reasonable (perhaps even lower) cost.
The telemarketers and pollsters call around dinnertime. I have had
them call at 9 p.m. They somehow think that they are doing me a favor to
include me or that I should be obligated to speak to them since they
took the time to call me. I don’t care for these telephone polls. They
just aren’t anonymous enough to begin with. They already know my name.
They know who I am. They have my telephone number. Maybe they targeted
me because someone in my house provided answers in the past.
There are laws in place to regulate and limit this obtrusive
behavior. But they don’t have any real impact. I recall one law where
these companies were not allowed to have a machine call you and tell you
to hold the line for something important and a human would be right with
you. It didn’t help that much. The machine still calls. It simply no
longer announces it’s a machine. You hear dead air — or the ocean if
you press the receiver hard enough against your ear.
You may have noticed that after you pick up the phone then say,
“Hello,” there is no one there. Then you say, “Hello,” again. Again no
response. So you hang up. Only to find that later that evening, often
within 15 minutes, there is someone calling with something for sale or
trying to get your opinion on something for their poll.
The reason you were called back is basic. When you first picked up
the phone, and were greeted by no one, that was probably a machine
calling. Interrupting your dinner, TV show or perhaps even waking up
your kids with the ring. This machine then listens carefully as it sets
out to determine if there was a human on the line, an answering machine,
fax machine or a wrong number recording containing the high-pitched
consecutive beep, beep, beep.
In the past I would hang up fast, if no one responded quickly. Hey,
my life is moving fast too. If someone is going to interrupt me they had
better have their act together before interrupting my act. I can’t hang
up that fast any longer. The cellular service has become so poor in the
San Francisco Bay Area that I found I was hanging up on business
associates that had a delay or noise factor to contend with.
My latest findings indicate that I should say, “Hello,” only once.
Then wait quietly until someone says something. If a human is calling
and they heard the ringing stop they will say something. If I do not
hear something then I hang up quietly. I think the machine calling
confuses this with an answering machine. It then helps the telemarketer
avoid your number. This seems to work.
I tell you this in a weak attempt to make these companies move to
Let’s see how the polling works:
href="http://www.coolguy.com/vote.html">Here is a simple Internet
poll. No waiting for someone to read a cue card or talk you into
participating. No one ringing your phone while you are at the dinner
table. You are already on the Net. No details as to your identity are
being gathered. Plus the big bonus, if you participate I will instantly
provide you the accumulated results in the form of bar graphs the moment
you finish the poll.
What are your thoughts related to polls? E-mail me: href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com
Last week I asked when you thought the Internet bubble would burst.
Appears as though many of you didn’t want to think about it. It was the
second poorest e-mail response I have received to date. Yet, the click
count on the page was just as high as usual. Perhaps it’s because so
many of us have money in the stock market targeted on Internet Gold.
Here’s a few interesting responses from last week:
John M. @ netins.net
Enjoy your columns Bob. IMO I feel the Internet’s growth is just
beginning. Most societal changes and businesses have a period of slow
growth and development, then rapid acceleration, then maturity. The
Internet is just entering the rapid acceleration phase I believe. Just
five years ago 95 percent of the people in the U.S. didn’t even know
about the WWW.
Bruce of North Carolina
The Internet bubble will not burst but will slowly collapse as more
and more regulations and junk is placed upon the backbone.
We know that government involvement usually means a slowdown of
anything it deals with. More regulation, more interference, means that
our data must be read by the providers.
After all, if they can be sued because someone put up child
pornography/bomb building/hate group/whatever — even if what someone is
accused of turns out to be untrue — they HAVE to monitor and control to
protect themselves. This takes times and money and extra traffic on the
Net. For example, AOL decided that the sale of antique firearms should
be banned. They shut down those sites, regardless of legality of the
site. Censorship and the fear of lawsuits mean more caution, less
As the governments around the world learn to fear the free expression
of ideas by the Internet, they naturally create reasons to monitor and
Victor @ lcc.net
The best example of new technologies driving bubble investing is
probably the British electric stocks near the turn of the century. Any
stock with “Electric” or “Power” in its name took off regardless of the
actual underlying asset base. (Shades of dot.com, Batman!) It didn’t end
One last thought about human behavior: we are great at predicting
history. Investors in bubbles that burst don’t reinvest in the same
assets until the next generation of investors comes along. (Who wants to
get fired twice for the same investment?)
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