Monday, May 03, 2010

Questions, So Many Questions!

As may be obvious to regular readers of this little blog, I enjoy (sometimes) taking various online surveys, all of which earn me points that I may use to purchase overpriced baubles that I don't need or enter me into sweepstakes that I won't win. Clearly my purpose in taking these things is merely's a step above playing solitaire, perhaps. Also, I have occasionally been sent products to use and report back on, which is kind of fun.

Part of the amusement, for me, is noting oddities in the preparation of these surveys. Having written more than a couple of them in my time, I know they can be tricky little devils. And I know how easy it is to be pulled off-track, or to discover that that which was plainly obvious to you is not so much to your participants. (I've had the same experience in my teaching endeavors: If the "correct" answer is A but three-fourths of the class put down B, perhaps the question was not worded as clearly as it might have been!)

Along that line, here's Exhibit A, a screenshot of a page from a survey I took a couple of weeks ago:

Don't ask me why, but I am tickled by the request for approximate number of employees followed by the first option, one, which is pretty specific. "Approximately how many employees do you have at your location?" "One." "No, I need the approximate number of employees." "Oh. About one."

Then there's this, which has nothing to do with the survey itself but struck me as a strange dialog box. We did some fiddling with our Verizon account last week, ending up with a couple of new phones, and the company followed up by asking if I'd take a brief survey about the experience. Why not? There was only a handful of quick questions, at the end of which appeared this:

As instructed, I used the red Close box to close the survey tab. Or at least such was my intent. Evidently the survey didn't think much of the idea, and gave me the dialog box at the top of the screenshot: Please close your browser explicitly. Explicity? Um, okay: Close, you #@$%* piece of #@!^& or so help me I'll @*%#®!! Explicit enough?

Finally, a shout-out to Alert Reader Ronald: You are absolutely right! Talk about hoisting oneself on one's own petard!  I deleted the blog post because I didn't want the survey creators identified when in fact the mistake I chided them for was my own, but the gist of it is this: I tweaked them for an unclearly phrased question, but as Ronald pointed out, the question was fine: It was the reader, yours truly, who was misreading it! Which, in a strange, funhouse-mirror way, sort of made my point, which was that it's important to have more than one set of eyes peruse these (and other) things before they go out the door. Would that I had followed my own advice!
Nice to know people read these posts. I should include errors on a regular basis so as to elicit more feedback!

No comments: