Sunday, February 18, 2007

Moving On From MoveOn

by Sara

I canceled my membership in this week. And since I can't tell them why (which, in fact, factors largely into the decision), I thought I'd at least use my soapbox here to let the rest of you know why.

Three years ago last month, I moved from a small town near San Francisco to Vancouver, BC. At the time I moved, I dutifully went to the website and notified them of my address change -- giving them my new US address in northwestern Washington State. MoveOn events, I figured, would be a great way of getting to meet likeminded people closer to my new home.

Four months later, the address change still hadn't registered. I was still getting invitations to events in San Mateo, CA; but nothing about gatherings in Bellingham, WA. So I pinged them again.

A year later. Two years later. Three years later. The California event notices just kept coming (and the Bellingham events, assuming there were any, just kept getting missed.) I've gone to that damned website at least half a dozen times to try to put through an effective address change. When that failed, I hunted through the website to find the contact page (it's completely buried -- always a warning sign that a siteowner does not want to hear from you), and then tried to send them e-mail directly, in the fond hope somebody on their end would take pity on me and fix it manually. No luck: You can send MoveOn an e-mail, but nobody will ever, ever read it.

Last Tuesday -- 37 months after my move -- I got yet another invitation to another event near my old house. At which point, I simply gave up.

I liked being part of MoveOn. I was among their first 100,000 members, since founder Wes Boyd is an old friend a of my older brother's going back to the days when Wes was still building After Dark. Wes and Joan were pioneers. Tech futurists were talking about how the Web would change democracy; they went out and gave us the first serious proof of that concept.

In that sense, joining up was a family thing. I hosted MoveOn events in my old house, gave a lot of money, believed in what they were doing.

Last week, though, it finally hit me that any organization that's too brain-dead and unresponsive to process a simple address change request for three full years-- and, furthermore, has surrounded itself with a such a high Chinese Wall that its own members have utterly no way to contact it to rectify mistakes -- should not be trusted with any amount of money. Furthermore: any group working for greater political transparency shouldn't be so incommunicado that it can't even manage simple housekeeping tasks. If they have no functional way to correct even this most kind of basic error, you have to wonder about any claims they make about the quality of their member data.

So, regretfully, I've moved on. We've got other options now anyway, so perhaps its time is simply past.

Updated with corrections

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