I like surveys

So I was tickled to find this morning in my work email two invitations to separate work-related surveys. Of course I went and did them, posthaste, and then I wrote an email to the group dispensing one of the surveys to tell them why certain multiple-choice answer options probably wouldn't get them entirely accurate or useful responses. (Yes, in addition to doing surveys, I also like to tell people how to run them better.)

Just like week, I also did a big-ass survey at work. That one was old-school: we had to colour in little ovals on an optical answer sheet --- the ones that get fed through a machine for the results to be read and that I remember were a big deal when they were introduced in school in the early '80s. I felt like I was taking a test, except that I did know all the answers for once (or could, at least, readily make them up).

I should qualify my blog post title by saying that I like surveys about stuff that I like answering questions about, which is why I once happily spent twenty minutes standing at the door, answering questions about what I feel is the inadequacy of family-friendly policies in our economic system, with someone who'd come a-knocking on behalf of the government. And I happily plugged the MIT Weblog Survey some months ago.

I will not, however, stop along Orchard Road or any other public place where random people wave fliers in my face and try to interest me in a "survey" that will mysteriously lead to offering me a credit card or a vacation home in Malaysia. And back in school, when it seemed that for weeks on end we were subjected to a battery of surveys about health, careers and who knows what else, I remember diligently colouring patterns into the optical answer sheet, without referring to the questions at all. Factor that into your survey results, why don't you.

Er ... I think I should go do some work now.


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At 10/04/2005 10:44 pm , Blogger Ondine said...

I think we got the same surveys and I think I just deleted them. Think we very free. Bah. =)

At 10/05/2005 12:07 am , Blogger Postmaster-General said...

Evil... EVIL... You skew data... Worst sin known to nerdz everywhere... Well at least the statistician nerds. (s and z who caresz)

I do surveys for marketing comapnies. It's funny. You get to hear the whacked out ideas for new products.

At 10/05/2005 4:52 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i actually do online surveys for money, when i have the time. oh the life of a poor student. heh

At 10/05/2005 11:42 am , Blogger Tym said...

Just to reiterate: I only screw around with surveys that I don't give a flying eff about.

Of course, if I could make a living off doing surveys, I would do all and sundry, no questions asked, no shading of patterns indulged.

At 10/05/2005 10:51 pm , Blogger trisha said...

It's good there are people like you around.

I used to work in market research, in a company that generates surveys for a living. And I had a hand in designing questionnaires and translating them into Chinese as well so we could speak to the aunties and find out what shampoo they use.

So continue doing those surveys cos somebody's living is at stake. And hopefully the data will help those faceless corporations and institutions to make changes that will affect your life at some point.

At 10/06/2005 4:03 am , Blogger tscd said...

I'm sure whoever looks through the surveys will notice the shading of patterns...hopefully.

At 10/08/2005 11:16 am , Blogger Tym said...

trisha > Why, thank you. No one's ever considered my fondness for surveys as a positive character trait before :)

tscd > I think it's usually a machine that scans these surveys, so I guess it depends on how complex the algorithm is. Heh.


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