Monday, April 16, 2012

Public Institutions Try to Avoid Giving Out Contact Information

One thing that really drives me crazy is trying to contact anyone who works in government or the civil service. In many jurisdictions, it seems like they do their best to keep all kinds of contact information (such as name, phone number, or e-mail address) secret from the public.

An example is our local public high school, the Waterloo Collegiate Institute. This high school is paid for with our provincial tax dollars; yet you will look in vain for the e-mail address of anyone who works there. I tried just now to get a work e-mail address for the webmaster over the phone, but no one would give it to me! This is insane.

Contrast that with the University of Waterloo. Not only are addresses and phone numbers available everywhere, there's even a web app to make finding this information easy.

This reminds me of the story about fire stations after the telephone was invented. Some refused to have telephones installed, saying that if they were to do so, people would constantly be calling them and they wouldn't have the time to put out fires.

I would favour a provincial or federal law saying that all civil servants and others paid with tax money must have their work phone number and work e-mail address posted in an easily-accessible place on the institution's web page.


Anonymous said...

In the case of the high school, though, the "webmaster" was probably some contractor who could care less about maintaining the site

Kerry Liles said...

Sometimes (although not as often as I would like) the 'whois' domain information reveals some useful data. I still come across domains with real names and phone numbers and email addresses...

I presume you tried the canonical 'webmaster@...' email address?

ceilingcat said...

I suspect he is inspired by Major Major, from Catch-22

"Major Major is a commander who doesn't command. He hates dealing with people, and is somewhat frightened of them. He therefore instructs his receptionist/orderly that, whenever he is in his office, any visitors should be told he is out. When he leaves his office (sneaking out the back window), the receptionist can send visitors in to see him. In short, the only time you can see Major Major in his office is when he's out. If he's in, you can't see him."