One of the newer sources for getting involved in issues is found in online petitions. You can sign these and add your voice to that of others to make a difference on issues. These sites can provide a great avenue to organize those with common thoughts on a topic as well as to spread news about different issues. Below you will find several of these sites’ web address and a bit about them. I make no recommendation on any of these sites and encourage users to take appropriate precautions in using them. Some cautions to be aware of in regards to petition sites in general include (1) the risk that these are being used to create mailing lists to be sold to advertisers or used by organizations (sometimes shown in who runs a particular site), (2) whether the format of the particular petition site will work with the submission requirements for a particular organization being petitioned (e.g. many government agencies have particular area requirements for who can sign and required structure for the petition), and (3) that you need to pay attention to whether there is a way to verify signatures (e.g. so that the same person doesn’t just sign up over and over under the same or different names).
However, even with the caution needed in using these, there are some great possibilities with this tool. It is easy to feel helpless in the face of many current national or global issues. The actions of huge cooperation or countries can be too large to ‘take on’ in conventional ways but these petitions can gather the power of the masses in amazing ways and foster change.
Some possible uses on online petitions include:
*identifying a particular petition on a topic related to the message of a Sunday service and have computers available in the hallway where people can sign the petition.
*periodically run an article in a newsletter or e-news letter, or post a list on a bulletin board, in which links to petitions the church wants to highlight are listed.
*create a group that searches the petitions in order to keep the congregation informed on different issues that are of interest.
From the Avaaz website: “The Avaaz community campaigns in 14 languages, served by a core team on 4 continents and thousands of volunteers.Avaaz is managed by a team of
campaigners working from Switzerland, Brazil, the United States, Argentina, and the United Kingdom.:
Wikipedia writes: “’Since 2009, Avaaz has not taken donations from foundations or corporations, nor has it accepted payments of more than $5,000 (£3,100). Instead, it relies simply on the generosity of individual members, who have now raised over $20m (£12.4m).’ In 2011 it had around 50 staff. Suggestions for campaigns come from members, supplemented by guidance from teams of specialists. Once a suggestion has been taken up as having potential, tester emails are sent to 10,000 Avaaz members; if the emails receive a sufficient response, the campaign is opened up to all Avaaz members.” Some have charged that avaaz is heavily support by George Soros but Avaaz says that since 2009 they do not take large donations. (10/10/2011)
The web site states: “Change.org is an online advocacy platform that empowers anyone, anywhere to start, join, and win campaigns for social change.” Wikipedia states “Change.org,Inc. is a for profit corporation whose businesses includes the sale and provision of list-building services.”
Note: I have personally signed a couple of petitions on this site and have not noticed an increase of advertising spam.
*Free to use
*Gives suggestions on how to write petitions, whom to target, etc.
*Has a support staff that can help train, give strategic advice and support
*Categorizes petitions by animals, criminal justice, economic justice, education, environment, gay rights, health, human rights, human trafficking, immigrant rights, sustainable food, and women’s rights.
*An email to the targeted entity is sent when each person signs the petition
*Participant’s can hide their name on the petition
From GoPetition web site: “GoPetition is a non-partisan site and has no political affiliations. Our
aim is to provide access to quality software and tailored petition hosting services.”
signed, John Pope CEO
GoPetition’s privacy statement reads: “GoPetition will not give or sell your information to any third party. In signing a petition, your information can be accessed by the petition's author. The author agrees to use signatures responsibly and legally. This may involve the author contacting you about the campaign you have supported at GoPetition.”
*Creators of petitions can customize the types of information they want obtained from those signing the petition (e.g. telephone number, age, membership number or answer to a specific questions.
*Offers a “premium” service that provide: 3 file format backup and download of signatures, customizable signature results (e.g. can select what fields of information are appropriate for public view), IP Filter to prevent human spam, download of signature email addresses so that you can contact supports (e.g. in a text file of signer’s email addresses).
*Offers 50 templates samples for petitions.
*Real time review of signatures.
*Uses Signature maps to geo-locate signature clusters (this does not identify particular signatories but only clusters of signers).
*Automatically filters and removed duplicate signatures.
*Swear word filters automatically removed any undesirable words from signature details or
from comments sections.
*Anti-spam filters are used to stop computer generated spam and human verification codes are also used to prevent automated signatures.
*Petition message board option on which signers can communicate with other supporters.
*Author contact mailbox allows the signers to communicate directly with the author.
*Video and picture embedding into the petition is available.
*Uses Google and ValueClick advertising in order to underwrite the site.
* Provides tools to help in writing petitions.
*Allows social media site such as Facebook and Twitter to link.
www.ipetitions.com (run by Angle Three Associates)
From the ipetitions statement of principles: Non-partisan: iPetitions is neither left nor right, neither liberal nor conservative. We believe that all opinions deserve an equal hearing.
Tolerance: We will not accept any petition which discriminates on grounds of race, class, sex, ethnicity, political affiliation, or sexual orientation. We reserve the right to refuse any petition which we feel does not contribute to an open and democratic exchange of ideas.
Privacy: We are committed to maintaining the privacy of our petition hosts and those who sign their petitions
*Free use, there is a pay portion for customized petitions
*10 Petitions per user
*Cannot be used for government petitions
*They do not use signatures unless given permission by the individual signer
*Petitioner can authenticate signatures with filters that:
-can filter out duplicate names
-can filter out duplicate emails
-can limit the number of signatures from any one IP addresses within a set time period
*You can password protect a petition so only a particular group can access it
*To send petition you can download to My Account and print off names or email them. iPetitions also offers a service to send a formatted copy of your petition and set up a URL address with the names of signatories.
*iPetition is supported by advertisements and donations which allows the service to be free. These advertisers may request a voluntary submission of the information from the users of the site. A customized solution that doesn’t include ads can be provided for a fee.
*You can browse current petitions under categories such as business/industry,
environment/wildlife, media/culture/sports, politics/government, religion/spirituality, etc.
*States that over 17 million signatures have been received for petitions on their site.
www.petitiononline.com (owned by Artifice, Inc and spin-off of designscommunity.com)
Note: This site lists “sustaining subscribers” of 3 building companies and Mergemedia which is listed as an internet publishing company)
* “Provides free hosting of public petitions for responsible public advocacy”.
*Categories include politics/government international, politics/government USA,
Politics/government state, politics/government local entertainment/media, environment, religion, and technology/business.
*Does not accept petitions that advocate violence, extreme hostility, use foul language or are “otherwise irresponsible or anti-social.”
*Petitions are not delivered by the website. Petitions can be delivered electronically simply by emailing the petition URL with a note to the petition recipient. Or the petition can be printed and delivered physically.
*Duplicate signatures are automatically deleted and each person who signs is sent a confirming email message. Signature and email address (always required) are logged for possible validation. A statistical validation is available for a fee. With this service a sampling of signers are contacted via the submitted email addresses.
*Supported by donations and 25% of income is from Google AdSense advertising on some pages.
*Signors can hide their signature.
*You can add up to four additional fields of information you want to collect with each signature.
*You can add tags for online search engines to read.
Petitionspot’s advertisement policy states: “As consideration for your use of the Service, PetitionSpot.com shall display advertisements and commercial content and materials based only on the demographic and geographic information you provided. In addition, PetitionSpot .com
highlights predetermined keywords within an e-mail. These links lead to paid content. petitionspot.com specifically disclaims all liability and warranty with regards to such third party materials, ads, promotions links etc. Advertisement can include banners or text links on the site, as well as commercial email to users of PetitionSpot.com. You are considered a user of the site by joining the site and/or by signing a petition that belongs to another user. If you do not want to be a user of this site, you may not participate in becoming a member, or may not sign any petitions that is on PetitionSpot.com.”
*You receive micro-payments for signatures (1¢ per signature)
*Ads, which are selected in part by examining keywords within an email, are displayed.
*Does not send petition signatures directly but makes them available through the user account.
*It accumulates information given by voluntary surveys, order forms, registration pages, etc. and can used that “individual information to provide promotional offers to individuals by means of email advertising, telephone marketing, direct mail marketing, online banner advertising, and package stuffers, among other possible uses.” (petitionspot web site)
*Categories include animal rights, civil/human rights, criminal justice, economy/business, education, entertainment/media, environment, government/politics, health, and uncategorized.
However, a sampling of petition largest petitions include: requests for particular families to be the recipients of the Extreme Makeover Home Edition new house (petitions for 2 separate families) and 52,000 signatures about the release date of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
www.thepetitionsite.com (run by Care2’s)
Wikipedia comments: “Care2 is a social network website that was founded by Randy Paynter in 1998 to help connect activists from around the world. It has a membership of approximately 16 million people. Care2's stated mission is to help people make the world a better place by connecting them with the individuals, organizations and responsible businesses making an impact.
*Community focusing on making a difference in healthy and green living, human rights and animal welfare.
*There are ads which support the site and you are not able to opt out of them.
*Current petitions are under categories such as animal welfare, corporate accountability, education, environment/wildlife, health, media/arts/culture, politics, spirituality/religion.
*Can be linked to social networking sites like Facebook & Twitter.
*Lists itself as the #1 Petition Site in the world and their October 3, 2011 counter lists 2.9 million visitors in the last week
Comments from various petition sites on 10/10/2011
Wikipedia comments as of 10/10/2011