Forcing Consent Is A Bad Idea
We previously asked the question “who is your program for?” The idea behind that post was to briefly examine the idea that we make decisions for our programs that are based upon whom we have in mind to benefit. One example that I mentioned to show an incorrect focus was “We’ll require someone to register with us before we even allow them to view a web page.”
There’s a reason that I used that example. There are websites that require you to create a login in order to even view their website. Now, I can think of a couple of reasons why a company would try to force registration behavior.
- A company is trying to build their mailing list. One good way to do that with minimal complaints is by compiling the list from people who have visited your site.
- Audits. Some companies are required to provide audit data showing how many website visitors they have or how often an item is viewed. While this can probably be done by providing logs, the data is sometimes considered more valuable if it can be linked to people instead of abstracts.
From a messaging policy standpoint, it is usually best to force yourself to do something than it is to force someone else to do something. Forcing another party to engage in any action which only benefits you can result in poor outcomes.
I actually did sign-up with one of these websites. Here is what I have found since that day: Requiring a one-sided transaction like “you must create an account in order to even view our site” is going to cause people to give bad information. This creates a problem that leads to issues for both of the reasons that we identified above as reasons for forcing registration.
- Bad information causes the audit data to be bad. If someone has to give information — any information — in order to view the website, then they’re going to give just that: any information. Since the information given is not validated then the audit data is corrupt.
- Bad information leads to spam complaints. This can take one of two forms:
- Accurate information can be bad information if it is not collected with actual, informed consent. This will lead to spam complaints.
- But, if people are giving bad data on top of that, then at least some of the data will exist. The easy way to think of this is through the use of aliases. If you give your name as “John Smith” you do that because that is a relatively common name (in English at least). There is someone out there with that name. The same is usually true of email addresses. There is a reason why you probably cannot get email@example.com: someone else already has it. That person is now receiving messages that they did not consent to receive and are very legitimately marking the messages as spam.
The result of this is bad news for a messaging program. In fact, messages from the company that I was forced to sign up with (but did not provide active consent to) are consistently landing in the spam folder now, even though I have never provided any positive or negative feedback to my mailbox provider about their messages.[acp add author=”Mickey Chandler” title=”Who Is Your Program For” id=”me-01″ url=”https://www.spamtacular.com/2020/01/21/who-is-your-program-for/” year=”2020″ month=”January” day=”21″ medium=”blog” /]