Re: The Only Place Where Data Entry Is The Most Coveted Job


Regarding the last paragraph.

Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 8:45 PM
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In order to achieve high contact rates, some predictive dialing systems will engage in obnoxious behaviour, like repeatedly and heavily dialling non-responsive numbers until somebody finally picks up the phone just to end the annoyance. The Obama campaign may have good reasons for switching away from them.

OTOH, it could just be that whoever's in charge of the phone banking didn't have the technical know-how this time out.

Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 8:52 PM
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You know, we could kill two birds with one stone and offer to build the kind of system you're talking about for the Obama campaign...

Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 8:53 PM
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I think the catch is that the approach differs depending on who you're trying to reach. I know someone who worked for the Clinton campaign before she dropped out and it was robo-calls for GOTV/"can we count on your support on Tuesday", dialing individual numbers off a list for volunteer-seeking. Maybe there's some calculation that the time necessary to put the volunteer information in a database so that you could do robo-calls isn't worth the payoff? Or maybe the robo-calling to potential voters is linked up with some kind of national database that all the candidates/any political operation can use, and so campaigns don't have to spend money to get those databases up and running from which to do the robocalls. Whereas the volunteer lists are basically culled from people who signed up on the website, people who have written their info on a sign-in sheet, and people who have volunteered before (I volunteered for Obama back in Feb and I must've gotten 5 or 6 calls up to now trying to get me to volunteer again).

So I'm not really sure Obama has been pwned by Kerry. I dunno. Has anyone done GOTV-type calling for Obama that was through a robo-system?

Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:25 PM
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But, from my own tally, 90% of the numbers I called were either out of service or nobody answered.

One of my dad's favorite statistics is the amount of false phone numbers given by the 'converted' at the Billy Graham crusade. (I guess they're asked to fill out a little card after they receive Jesus?) I don't remember the number, but it's high.

Maybe this is the same kind of thing.

Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:34 PM
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Mr. B's calling for Obama was also hand-dialing from a list. And he had the devil of a time getting people from "yes, I support Obama" to "I am willing to volunteer to do something about that support." So I'm glad to hear that that's changed.

Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:42 PM
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God bless you. I'd rather get hit with a stick than call people I don't know.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:48 PM
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I strongly suspect that both 5 and 6 are right. That this was most likely a list of people who'd signed up somewhere saying they'd be willing to volunteer (it's certainly the first group who should be called), or possibly just signed up for tickets to an event.

If it's a list of people who'd said they'd be willing to volunteer I wonder why 50% now say no.

During the Kerry campaign there was absolutely no sharing of data between the party and the presidential, senatorial, and representative campaigns. Although they called it a coordinated campaign, there was actually no coordination.

Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:49 PM
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Even the people who said they couldn't volunteer were almost apologetic about it. And a surprising number of the people in that category said they wanted to but couldn't because they were either (1) working multiple jobs or (2) single parents who couldn't afford babysitting. Which made me feel that people like me who have the time and ability to volunteer should really be doing so for their sake because those answers reflect the reasons we want to elect Obama in the first place.

Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:50 PM
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9: well, that shoots down my theory. Thanks for the data.

Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:52 PM
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I volunteered for Kerry in Ohio and remember sloppy paper phone lists with lots of out-of-date numbers.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:56 PM
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Also, just saw Obama on TV behind this idiotic lipstick on a pig thing, and he looks stressed, irritated, and tired.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 9:57 PM
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When I didvolunteer recruitment it wasn't a list of people who said they'd want to volunteer, but those who'd signed something, someplace indicating that they are Obama supporters. This could be the website, a rally, or even just registering to vote at an Obama table. Most wouldn't be home, of those that were, the overwhelming majority were Obama supporters. Of those, about a third were willing to volunteer, but only half of those were willing to commit to a specific time and date in the next week.

Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 10:03 PM
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I miss Ogged.

Can we start a telemarketing campaign to get him back blogging?

Posted by: Dan | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 10:05 PM
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12: Are you talking about this? Because he doesn't look stressed or tired to me at all.

Posted by: lurker from rashomon | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 10:23 PM
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15 -- I took PGD to be referring to Letterman.

Posted by: NĂ¡pi | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 10:31 PM
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Why would anyone write down their real phone number and give it to an organization, ever? Maybe this is just because I grew up with Bible-cave-dwelling parents, but one of the first things I ever learned was don't enter contests, don't sign membership forms, don't tick the 'yes I'd like to receive special offers' box.

I love Obama, and would love to do something to help (Denmark suggestions, anyone? Make pastries?), but I still hella wouldn't give them my number.

Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 10:49 PM
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I volunteered during the primaries, primarily just doing database entry and cold calling to voters in Iowa inviting them to Obama speeches and rallies. I think that Obama's campaign has been very dependent on hand me down equipment and facilities in order to focus monies for different purposes. Besides, all those hotel rooms and parties cost tons of money, can't waste it on modern technology (!)

This weekend I'm registering voters to increase that minority vote! I'm completely cynical about this doing any good what with GOP voter suppression techniques which are already in the works. Sadly, I sent an informational email to just about everyone I know locally (who I think gave a fuck...about 25-30 people) and only 5 people had the balls to even reply.

Posted by: clo | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 10:56 PM
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17 You don't need to write down your phone number, just your name. If you're registered, they've got your number. Even if you aren't registered, if any of the commercial data companies have your number then the campaign has it.

Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 11:11 PM
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Thank god I live off the grid.

Posted by: Rottin' in Denmark | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 11:15 PM
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"Why are you getting pwned by a campaign from FOUR YEARS AGO?"

An educated guess would be because each campaign is run as a project with a fairly specific deadline, after which everybody walks off with no attempt at archiving the campaign material and software or pass on lessons learned to the rest of the organisation/party.

I bet there's a lot of wheel reinventing going on with these campaigns.

17: might want to hook up with your local chapter of Democrats abroad?

Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 09-10-08 11:43 PM
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20: Setting the ringers to low and the answering machine to pick up on the first ring is almost as good as being off the grid. IMX telemarketers don't leave messages.

Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 12:01 AM
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like a pyramid scheme

That was my reaction to reading the descriptions of some of the canvassing jobs I keep seeing advertised. But this is actually good work.

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 12:04 AM
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If you're tired after all that cold-calling, you could try playing some "Bush or Batman?"

Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 2:30 AM
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Ogged bait from the front page of todays Johannesburg Star.

Do athletes with prosthetic limbs have an unfair advantage in landing lucrative endorsement contracts? (See red headline just above the fold.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 5:14 AM
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In Michigan, they're planning to challenge the votes of people who try to vote from an address which has been foreclosed on, though the person may still be living at that address.

via Paul Campos at LGM

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 5:29 AM
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Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 5:29 AM
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My experience of phonejockeying, in roles that involved asking for money (chasing bad debts for a plant hire firm; soliciting donations for my college), was that the chance of a given phone number actually being answered by the person listed on any given call was something like 3 in 10. It's always like this. If you add in the people who instantly hang up, it would be even worse.

Robodialling helps, but inevitably the call stack overflows and your customers/voters/donors/debtors/whoever get annoying silent calls. One thing I'd like to see come out of my new project would be a good campaign distributed phone bank application, preferably designed to never spawn a silent call.

Frex, the logic usually does something along the lines of:
for name, phonenumber in list:
call = telephony.initiatecall(phonenumber)
if call==True:
handler = getcallhandler(name, phonenumber, call(id))
telephony.reroute(call(id), handler)
#the comments box will no doubt mangle the indentation and W-lfs-n will scream at me, but thar ye go
#we're assuming there's a module for the voice stuff - in the UK there's BT Web21C, but I can't be bothered to look up the syntax

So if you run out of call handlers, you keep initiating calls, and really piss people off. If I ever do something like this I'd have it grab a call handler before initiating the call. Presumably they are usually done the other way because running out of handlers is assumed to be because THEY AREN'T WORKING HARD ENOUGH!!! and they can damn well suffer, this being the default for call centre management. You realise it's possible to bake your class prejudices into software?

Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 6:43 AM
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yup, comments mangled the indents. Gah. Obviously lines 2 and 3 should be on the first indent level and 4 and 5 on the second.

Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 6:46 AM
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To me, the solution to the problems in 28-29 is to have a staff of call handlers, and then to have some "extras" in the office. The extras can be xeroxing or doing data entry or whatever, but if the call handlers get jammed up and there are too many calls coming in, the extras step in.

That does away with the problem of feeling like you're using people's time inefficiently (the flip side of "OMG they're not working hard enough!") *and* the truly obnoxious problem of calling your supporters and then essentially hanging up on them.

I haven't done phone banking this fall, but I did just go to the website and register to host a volunteer in my home in October. This is a tremendous incentive to clear up the massive backlog of boxes and disarray that remains from my move. I won't be able to get everything done in three weeks, though, so hopefully they won't mind a house full of peeling wallpaper.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 7:17 AM
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DS said it in 2. It is fairly easy to maximize the utilization of the callers by using a predictive dialer. Many times the predictive dialers are not even very much of a dick, perhaps dropping a call when it is answered because the agent was not available when the call was answered, and then calling back in ten minutes to try again.

But now that we are becoming China human labor is cheap so why not use the old wetware that will work for free? It is a smart business decision, and many of the US plebes can even speak American with not much accent.

So the choice is simple - proven technology that might make you look like a dick or free labor?

Posted by: Tripp the voice of sweet reason | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 8:18 AM
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That's why us old timers learned to program using brackets.

Posted by: Fuzzykisser | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 8:31 AM
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32: we

And as long as I'm ranting I was listening to NPR where they had a segment about worker dissatisfaction in Gen Y, and essentially they were saying Gen Y is looking for this and this and this from their employment and I was thinking "Well yeah, that is all understandable and very reasonable from the worker's standpoint but why in hell do you think the companies care a bit about that?!"

The thing is the US workforce demand is shrinking and the frigging baby boomers ain't retiring like they are supposed to, probably because their priorities are all screwed up and since they don't have the dough they are sticking around so, like, they can eat instead of crawling away to die quietly.

Meanwhile desperate people, I mean terrorists, I mean illegals, not people, are pouring over our borders so *they* can feed their families too.

And Gen Y is saying they want jobs that are fulfilling, well-paying, and leave enough free time for family.

Whoo boy. Yeah, I'm ranting, complete with run-on sentences.

Posted by: Tripp the voice of sweet reason | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 8:47 AM
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33 is great. Generational rants are entertaining.

Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 8:53 AM
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All the news suggests that the Obama has many more volunteers than the Kerry campaign did. Perhaps the Obama campaign uses a labor instead of technology ($$$) intensive approach to telemarketing because they have more surplus free labor than surplus money.

Also, it's no secret that one of the reasons campaigns want volunteers to have meaningful-seeming work early on is so they stay interested, get a positive vibe about the operation (mainly from the socializing), possibly donate money, and ideally recruit friends for when they're really needed, on or near election day. So Becks, your time dialing wrong numbers is worth something to the campaign.

Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 8:55 AM
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The thing is the US workforce demand is shrinking and the frigging baby boomers ain't retiring like they are supposed to

On the upside, gen Y will probably have to introduce a cull. So there is that.

Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 9:00 AM
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On the upside, gen Y will probably have to introduce a cull. So there is that.

Oh yeah, good point. And gen Y, when that cull starts, I'm with you baby! Let's off these geezers. I know where they are and I've got guns. I'm an asset.

I always say if you can't beat em join em.

Actually I was semi serious years ago when I proposed that when we cut SS and medicare we balance that with loosening the restrictions on pot for those over 65. That will keep them passive and they can pick up a little extra dough slipping some of it to gen Y, which will keep them passive too.

I'm all about pragmatic solutions.

Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 9:08 AM
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I gave money this week. People are scary.

Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 9:17 AM
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I find the google for "impersonal genitalia" enormously amusing.

Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 9:51 AM
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Revealed, the secret narrative of the zimbabwe of Tripp's fingers!

Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 10:03 AM
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I am one of those people who has babysitting issues, but I am planning on hosting a fundraiser for Obama, which is something I have never done for a politician before. I am also doing some neighborhood canvassing, and the online tech for that is really cool.

Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 10:12 AM
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I invented joke:

How can you tell when Sarah Palin is lying?

Her mouth is moving!!

Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 10:25 AM
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It turns out maybe there was a list of books she wanted to ban after all.

Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 10:28 AM
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Oh, those were just books her church wanted to ban. Just because she was elected largely by support from church members doesn't mean she would have thought she had some sort of mandate to do anything like that.

Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 10:31 AM
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There's a report that Ethan Hawke is in the Wobegon area. If not Ethan Hawke, it's an imposter. This ranks with the bear sighting for excitement.

Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 1:52 PM
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Honestly, the most encouraging thing about the whole book-banning thing is that at least censorship in libraries is still unpopular enough that they feel the need to lie about it.

On topic, I've been getting a lot of emails yesterday and today encouraging me to go canvass in NH this weekend. A little more notice, please, Obama campaign?

Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 09-11-08 2:05 PM
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In response to Beck's question, I:

*emailed my boyfriend's mother who lives in western Colorado and implored her to register voters/convince her friends, relatives to vote

*gave my born-again, celebrity-obsessed friend a copy of "Dreams From My Father" to read, and convinced her that Obama does share the same Christian values as her, as well as being more competent than McCain on the economy, national security, etc.

*donated to the DNC today (as I was talking to canvasser, this crazy woman started yelling "McCain, McCain, look at the polls, he's ahead!) I wasn't going to give money, as I'm one of those monthly contributers to Obama, but she was impetus enough.

*going to see Obama tomorrow in NH!!!! Anyone else coming?

Posted by: Quasimado | Link to this comment | 09-12-08 12:19 PM
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