What part of “no solicitors” don’t you understand?

Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Here at the ranch, we have a sign on the front door that says “No solicitors” in big letters.  Because you all know what a friendly gal I am, I added in smaller letters underneath, “friends welcome,” probably because I am still afraid deep down that perfect strangers will think I’m a b!tch.  (I know:  and this is a problem I should worry about?  I need to butch up, especially since I came out as a lesbian earlier this summer.)

Well, apparently I should just let perfect strangers think I’m a total b!tch, because in spite of my sign, those goddamned solicitors keep ringing my doorbell and bothering me throughout the day.  Twice in the past two days I’ve been bothered by 1) a young woman selling children’s books, and 2) a tiresome godbag and his l’il disciple.  Even more amazing to me–aside from the apparent lack of reading skills and/or comprehension–is the fact that BOTH tried to ARGUE with me when I pointed to the sign and said, “No solicitors!  Thank you!”  #1 tried to tell me that the family across the street had sent her over (thanks, neighbor!), and #2 apparently thinks that just because he’s not looking immediately to take my money that my signage doesn’t apply to him.  (I checked the OED on this one:  although it’s commonly believed that “solicitor” means only “salesperson,” the OED’s first non-obs. definition of the word is “[o]ne who entreats, requests, or petitions; one who solicits or begs favours; a pleader, intercessor, advocate.”  In other words, whatever you’re advocating or for whomever you’re acting as an intercessor, I don’t want to hear about it.)

I have a friend who has a sign on her front door that says something like this:  “We like things just the way they are.  We don’t care if you’re selling something, canvassing for a politician or a political party, or just spreading the Good News.*  We are perfectly satisfied with our home, our politics, and our religious beliefs.  We appreciate that you want to share, but we don’t want to hear about it.”  I’m thinking that I might have to get that specific and clear.  (And I guess I’ll add a smiley-face so that they don’t think I’m a complete b!tch :)!)

In the comments, please, tell me what kind of sign I need to hang on my front door to be left in peace.

31 thoughts on “What part of “no solicitors” don’t you understand?

  1. When I worked for a really politically quite good canvass-based lobbying organization (a smaller, local environmental policy group), we were told to ignore “no solicitor” signs because we “were not solicitors”, which was what we were to say if asked. I really loathed this, since I knew darn well that “no solicitors” meant “no polite hippies working on transportation policy” just as surely as it meant “no fundies with jesus comics”. This was not a major factor in my quitting the job, but it was part of the hatred for fund-raising which led to the quit.

    On the other hand, the group needed money and actually did good policy work. Phone solicitation and mailings and door-to-door are godawful, but we’re in this situation where the right has the Koch brothers and a bunch of billionaires, and there’s no way around the fact that we need to raise money to pay our own policy people somehow.


  2. Frowner–thanks for this intel. I had a feeling that the common understanding of solicitor as “merchandise salesperson” was in part to blame for people ignoring my sign. (In the one case, it clearly was a salesperson at my door.)

    I don’t begrudge anyone raising funds. I just begrudge them ignoring my explicit wishes. Does anyone with a “no solicitors” sign on her door actually reward people who ignore the sign?

    How about a “Friends, neighbors, delivery people, and invited guests only” sign? Is that explicit enough?


  3. Frowner: I’ve worked in campaigns for years, and I never cared what anybody told me – if there was a “no soliciting” sign, I didn’t knock on the door. I’d leave some lit, but that’s it. It’s important to respect people’s wishes.


  4. It used to be when the door-to-door religious sales people came to my door that telling them that I was gay was enough to send the flying away. No more, it seems. Now they seem to be even more insistent. Sigh.


  5. I’m thinking the porch needs a (phony) trap door right in front of the door, clearly painted with “Caution! Trap Door Leads to Hungry Shark!” and a (non-functional) lever to one side.

    Then the sign can say, “Solicitors, Surveyers, Political Activists and Proselytizers pull lever; all others ring bell.”


  6. Am I the only one who just doesn’t answer the door if I’m not expecting somebody? (Admittedly, this works better in the cooler months.) Or, if I do answer, I just interrupt quickly “I’m not interested” and shut the door in their face. Much like hanging up on a telemarketer. Seems easier than trying to come up with appropriate signage….

    (And yes, it’s rude, but I truly don’t care. I can be rude to people in my own damned house.)


  7. “No Solicitors” just invites nosy visits from *barristers* sent by technicality-focused British tourists. I’d go with the tried and true americano usage: “Green River Ordinance Enforced Here,” which even originated in nearby Wyoming, and a wry reference to which I managed to slip into a conference paper once. There’s probably even an app they could download to get the lowdown on the complicated backstory involved. I also second Teaspoon on the trapdoor idea. My only fear as a solicitor would be that it WOULDN’T lead to a hungry shark–just for the honor of the thing, as Mark Twain (or A. Lincoln?) might have said.


  8. A few years ago I answered our door to find someone claiming to be from the phone company (or something that seemed legitimate). I did not let him in, and he seemed so shady that I called the police after he left – and it turned out that he had been getting into peoples’ homes in our town using that scam and had stolen some wallets.

    We live in a gated condominium complex, so I should have been even more wary, as most of the time guests need to call from the front gate to get access. I wasn’t that happy with the locked gate when we first bought this place, it seemed unnecessarily paranoid, but I like it now as a kind of minimal barrier to unwanted intrusions. If someone calls from the gate and I don’t recognize or expect them, I just don’t buzz them in.

    Of course, this isn’t much help for most home owners – though there are single family homes in our neighborhood with locked gates and call boxes at the front of their property.


  9. I don’t like solicitors, but I don’t in fact want to see them hurt. Threatening them seems over the top, even with a friendly smiley-face :)!

    I would ignore the doorbell, but I think that’s more of a possibility for people who live alone. But I may try this when I’m the only one around, which I tend to be during the academic year if I’m working at home. (I can usually see if it’s a UPS or FedEx delivery–the large trucks are pretty obvs.)


  10. I always figured the problem was that people can’t read… they’re not readers so they don’t even notice the sign, much less decode it.

    We’re now in a HOA that enforces the no solicitation. I don’t know how they do it, but somehow we haven’t been bothered since they said in their newsletter they were going to stop it. We have been getting more pamphlets and things, but much less door-belling.


  11. I looked at your tongue-in-cheek (I hope?) proposed language, and my thoughts turned to the ever-expanding syllabus, in which we include everything they must and must not do, because if it’s not in the syllabus (e.g., “Handwritten research papers will not be accepted”), it’s presumed not to be a rule. A sad, sad pass we’ve come to.

    How about something from this collection?


    Alternatively, you could just add a footnote to your current sign:
    ” *If you wonder, even for five seconds, whether ‘soliciters’ applies to you, it almost certainly does.”


  12. If you really want to be left in peace, hang a No Trespassing sign. Worked nicely for mr.mir and I until we moved to a less bothersome area.


  13. We don’t have a doorbell. It works great for keeping away intrusive visitors, they generally don’t even bother to knock. If I know I’m getting a package, I leave a note for UPS. Friends just come round back if no one answers the knock.


  14. I looked into this over the summer after opening the door to a mag crew member that ended up weirding me out pretty thoroughly. Apparently, a lot of door-to-door salespeople *do* have a lot of luck with people who open the door despite having ‘No Soliciting’ signs posted, and see pissing a few people off as a risk worth taking. The consensus seemed to be that showing your face at the door but declining to answer it is the best, if not most convenient, way to go (the idea being that not answering, period, suggests to people who are canvassing for empty homes that they have found one, and that opening the door is an invitation for a pitch). Some municipalities have laws against ignoring no soliciting signs, provided the signs meet certain requirements re: size and wording; religious groups tend to be exempt.

    The ‘No solicitors, friends welcome’ thing is nothing compared to the endless stream of absurdly nice signs for sale on Etsy. ‘Please’, ‘thank you’, and cute little baby animals seem entirely at odds with what drives one to make such a purchase. (One of my favorites, though, was actually something like Welcome! Friends: Always, Family: By prior appointment only, Solicitors: Never).


  15. Pingback: “No Solicitors” means you, actually : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

  16. I work in roofing and the nature of the buisness is door to door. And quite frankly, the peoplw with the shittiest roofs usually have no solicitor signs and its too bad because the longer you ignore the free roof inspection the less chance You have to cover the damages through an insurance claim because normal wear and tear becomes more visible. The truth of the matter is that people dont know jack shit about their roofs and they dont know how to deal with their insurance courrier—this is why we go door to door because well homeowners think a little to high and mighty of themselves. If you really want to get ris of canvassers get ano trespassing because they carry more legal weight.


  17. Soliciting is a legal term that means someone who is selling goods or services to be delivered later. Peddlers sell goods that are delivered immediately. Canvassing, electioneering, and spreading the good news are core First Amendment activities and always exempt from the laws governing business activity.


  18. Pingback: “No Solicitors” means you, actually | Historiann

  19. A friend who long ago sold something (magazines, maybe) door to door said the ones who ignore my sign probably get paid by commission, so they prefer to pretend it isn’t there, just in case they score this time. Last one saw my unfriendly look when I opened the door, then went, oh, oops we didn’t see your sign…probably lying. I said “thanks!” – not in a friendly way either – and shut the door. My sign is the Welcome Friends, No Thanks Solicitors kind, mounted on the screendoor so still visible if my door is open. It has reduced the frequency of pests at the door. Shutting the door in their face is all that’s necessary or deserved if they don’t pay attention.


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