Friday, November 16, 2007

It's All in the Wording

So I'm taking another of these online surveys the other night, and a few questions into it hit this one:

    Does your experience with equipment brands at work influence your decision to purchase consumer product brands for your home? For those that there were influenced, check all of the areas that you implemented at home based on your experience at work. Please select all that apply.

Having written a few surveys over the decades, I see immediately the problem with that question, and maybe you do, too. The first sentence is okay, but the second sentence seems to imply a positive experience that prompted me to "implement" an "area" at home. (The second sentence, by the way, is extraordinarily poorly written.) It's just as likely--and has happened on more than one occasion--that an experience with something at the office or in the classroom has convinced me to steer clear of a product or brand. The first sentence above sets the stage for a "good or bad" response, but in the end the survey-taker is simply given a list of product types and asked to check off the ones that "you implemented at home based on your experience at work"--suggesting that you bought such-and-such printer, say, because you liked the model at work...and giving you no place to indicate that you avoided buying such-and-such digital camera because you didn't like the one at the office. (Which was in fact the case for me some years ago.)

Now, in the end, I don't care. I get entered into the drawing for the money I'm not going to win either way. But as a vehicle for gathering information, that particular question doesn't well serve the survey company or its client. Tsk tsk.

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