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Steve Irwin Statue Email Petition

by Brett M. Christensen

Email message asks recipients to “sign” a petition to get a life-size statue of Steve Irwin built at Australia Zoo

Waste of time – Email petitions are ineffective.

Subject: Steve Irwin

This is a petition to get a life size statue of steve irwin to be built in australia zoo with no charge 2 the Irwin family all we need is 1000 signatures if you dont sign you are disrespectfull to an aussie hero so please sign. When you are the 1000th signinture please send it back to:
[Email address removed]

[List of names removed]

Detailed Analysis:
Soon after the death of Steve Irwin on 4th September 2006, an email petition began circulating that called for a life-size statue of the Crocodile Hunter to be built at Australia Zoo. The email asks recipients to “sign” the petition by adding their name to a list before sending it on.

The vague and poorly written message asks that the statue be built at no cost to the Irwin family. However, it does not specify who is expected to foot the bill. Nor does it explain to whom the completed petition will be submitted. The message asks that the list be sent to a specified Hotmail address once it reaches 1000 names. However, no mention is made of who will ultimately be given this list or what specific action is expected of them. The message also claims that only 1000 “signatures” are needed to make the project successful. However, there is no mention of why the apparently “magic” number of 1000 is necessary. As explained below, a name added to an email list is not a valid signature and such lists can be manipulated with ease.

Although the idea of a statue for Steve may have merit, an email petition is unlikely to be an effective strategy for bringing the idea to fruition. Since email petitions do not contain actual signatures, but only lists of unverified names, those in authority do not generally take them seriously. The names on such petitions can very easily be forged to artificially inflate the list. In some cases, name lists from completely unrelated petitions can be simply tacked on without the knowledge or permission of those who “signed” the original message. It is often doubtful that the person or government department “targeted” in the petition will even get to see the completed list, let alone act upon its demands.

In my opinion, email petitions are virtually useless and do nothing more than waste time and bandwidth. The author of this petition most probably meant well. Like many other people around the world, he or she may have felt compelled to take some action to honour our fallen wildlife warrior. Sadly, an email petition was a very poor choice. There are many more productive methods of promoting a cause, including properly organized website or paper based petitions.

Since Steve’s tragic passing, tributes for the man have poured in from all over the world. Some have even called for a statue. Perhaps one will be eventually created. I can’t help thinking, however, that Steve would find the idea a little pretentious. Possibly, he would prefer funds for a proposed statue be diverted to an environmental group such as Wildlife Warriors.

Last updated: 3rd September 2006
First published: 3rd September 2006
By Brett M. Christensen
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