Research or Spam?
Statement of Eric Dahl:
|I am a junior majoring in Political Affairs here at Midwestern University. I was awarded a scholarship by the University's research office to do a summer research project investigating people's use of the internet as a source of information about politics. I hoped to use this research as the basis of my senior honors thesis. My work was supervised by Prof. Velasquez, a professor in my department who specializes in online politics.
I designed my survey with Prof. Velasquez' help and following the techniques I had learned in my basic social science methodology course. I spent a lot of time designing the questionaire, basing it on what I considered to be the best of previously-created scales. I culled 1000 email addresses using a careful randomized blocked sampling design. I then sent this email to each address, inviting the recipient to participate in a survey and directing them to my webpage (which was on Northwestern's common web server). The webpage contained a form for the recipient to fill out, asking fifteen questions about internet use generally and use to find political information in specific.
I admit, I did make one mistake. I had never done anything like this before, and what happened was that I included all the 1,000 addresses in the "TO:" line of the email, instead of sending a separate message to each address.
I sent the message out in the morning on Friday, hoping that the recipients would take the chance over the weekend to fill out the questionaire. When I checked my email late in the day on Friday, I found I had several hundred messages--so many, in fact, that some couldn't download onto my email diskette and were lost. I opened several dozen and found they were complaints that my webpage was unavailable. When I checked, I found they were right--my webpage was gone. In its place was this blocking page. I talked to the computer lab assistants, but they didn't know what happened. On Monday, I called Prof. Velasquez and told her what had happened.
I later was informed that the system administrator sent me an email Friday evening telling me that he was blocking my webpage. Only then, going through the hundreds of emails, I found his message. Meanwhile, my survey has been wrecked, my research grant has gone to waste, and I need to find another topic for my honors thesis. I think that guy should be fired!
Copyright © 2002 Jean Goodwin|
Last updated 4 September 2002