ALBERTA VOTES 2008

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Reporters' Notebook

Campaign e-mail 101

February 16, 2008 | 05:41 PM
Rick DonkersRick Donkers

I'll admit I am a Luddite on the social networking sites, but I do know it's bad manners to reveal all your addresses when sending a mass e-mail. Apparently not everyone does.

An e-mail invitation to Conservative candidate Teresa Woo-Paw's open house in Calgary-Mackay may have cost the former public school board chair more votes than it will generate. The campaign e-mail included ALL of the addresses of the recipients.

Several potential Tory supporters had their e-mail boxes flooded with angry (and lengthy) replies to what many saw as an invasion of privacy.

One angry response reads: "We do not appreciate our privacy being compromised by a mass e-mail that exposes our e-mail address to people we do not know nor did we give permission for our e-mail to be used in such a way. Umm, what happened to privacy?"

woopaw.jpg
Teresa Woo-Paw is the Tory candidate for Calgary-Mackay. (PC Association of Alberta)

Another read: "I do not appreciated (sic) being in a mass e-mail that exposes my e-mail address to everyone."

To add insult to the faux pas, several respondents used the "reply to all" function to further fill e-mail boxes with their angry blasts.

Red-faced campaign organizers admit the oversight was an unfortunate incident. Campaign co-ordinator Quynn Phillips sent a personal apology for the error and subsequent inconvenience.

In his words: "Unfortunately, a short campaign period leads to tight deadlines and in a busy office staffed with unpaid volunteers, mistakes can happen as hard as we try to ensure they don't. As office manager, this error was entirely my responsibility."

Phillips says many of the upset recipients have since been converted into big Woo-Paw supporters after campaign officials phoned them with personal apologies.

As a traditional TV reporter, I continue to be amazed at how online campaigning has evolved in just a few short years. Clearly, some lawn signs and a fancy brochure – and even a good web page – don't cut it anymore.

There is an entirely different election campaign being waged in cyberspace that many citizens are unaware of. Candidates share photos on Flickr, post videos on YouTube, and try to outdo each other signing up friends on Facebook.

I just hope I remember my web manners as I file this notebook entry. Paper and an HB pencil were so much simpler.

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