Six or so of us ex-Peerweb Uni of Nottingham geeks have compiled a petition-campaign against our residential network providers, the Student Network Service, and their owners Information Services. After some discussion with the Students Union who presented an opportunity, courtesy of IS, to hold a small 'focus group' to address our issues, we decided to go ahead and collect as many names as possible so that IS can't shut us down like they usually do.

Rubbish speeds, technical faults, poor support and a variety of inappropriate things like requiring IE with pop-ups and javascript enabled for their flagship 'Student Portal' are all things we want looked at by the Uni. But the monopoly held by IS makes this difficult to accomplish.
Clearly, then, getting lots of names of people who feel the same way as we do is an important thing. And in the middle of the summer when students are scattered far and wide across the globe, the internet is the only way to accomplish this.

I used my access to the Newark Hall JCR mailing list and some Computer Science mailing lists to spread the word, and others have done the same. But perhaps the best 'recruiting tool' is Facebook. With some user groups boasting in excess of 2000 members, it's the obvious place to start.

So I sent a message to the owner of a generic Uni of Nottingham group with some 2300 members, asking him to spread the word by sending out a Mass PM to everyone in the group.

He declined.

im really sorry but i get millions of emails similar to this one and i cannot constantly email 2000 people for all of then. i am not sure that everyone had bad service form the internet provider, i for example thought that the service was fairly reliable. having said that i will sign ur pertition because there are areas where they could improve.

I messaged him back:

Unfortunately the service, whilst some might find it reliable enough for their needs, was definitely technically substandard as discussed on our Issues page. The problems discussed there have been compiled by students and staff alike and are very much real! Even if not experienced directly by every single SNS user, they do affect everyone and I hope at least you can agree that the problems exposed therein are quite serious!

That said, I understand why you're not happy to send out a notice to the group. To be honest, I think that shows good integrity on your part. 🙂 Too many people might abuse the priviledge of having so many names to hand.

But I do want to stress that this isn't a commercial project. It's not a party at ISIS or a cocktail party in Lenton… it is the first serious action to be attempted against some of IS's more lenient policies since they were controversially given complete control over the residential network a few years ago.

We really do need to get as many people in on this as possible and every avenue I've tried so far has resulted in a high rate of return. Enough people have experienced problems to make campaign advertisement worthwhile — but people will only step up if they are aware something is going on. Which is difficult during the holidays.

So…. if you wouldn't mind at least letting your friends know about this and help us reach areas of the community where we don't have a direct grasp. As I'm sure you know people that we don't, obviously. And then those people know other people.. and so on and so forth.

Anything like that you could do would be very much appreciated. 🙂

I really do appreciate his point of view, though. If I were in a group of 2000 members I wouldn't want that opportunity to be taken advantage of, either.

Oh well. Owners of groups with, say, 600 members don't seem as spam conscious, so we're still getting the message through. After a week of the petition being open for signatories, we just broke the 100 mark. Not neccesarily that impressive a number, and it's not even close to our desired bare minimum of 300. But for a week with very little actual campaign material going out… it's a good start.