Friday, June 15, 2007

Why not to take the D-News online survey

I love surveys. Like any good blogger, I believe that everyone is entitled to my opinion. It is, in fact, an ongoing annoyance with VoU2, who seems to get surveyed every other day, while I wait in vain for the phone to ring with someone on the line wanting to know what I think about laundry detergent.

Needless to say, I was delighted this morning when, upon surfing over to the Deseret Morning News website, a popup asked if I wanted to help improve the site. Sure! The survey would only take -- ouch -- 15-20 minutes. Hmm. Wasn't there something I was supposed to do today? What was it . . . oh, yeah--work. Oh, well. What's 15-20 minutes when the D-News is desperate for my opinion?

More local news, please . . . more local columns . . . no, I have not shopped for an automobile online lately . . . yes, I might buy a computer in the next 6 months -- Um, how is this improving the D-News site, again?

Then I got to Question 69, which began innocuously enough. Did I plan on attending political or community events? Yes. Fundraisers? Yes. Gun shows? Do undercover investigations count? "Visit a Casino"? A casino? Rather amusing for a D-News survey to ask such questions, I thought, joking to myself that this could be a clever means of getting people to confess their sins to a certain D-News owner. What the heck, it's anonymous. I went ahead and clicked on the various ways that I planned to offend Rep. Sandstrom's sensibilities in the near future.

Finally, the end drew near. "Be sure to enter your email address in the area below if you wish to participate in future research or to be entered into the drawing for $1,000 in cash or American Express gift certificates," it said. It then asked my first name, last name, and e-mail address. Did I want to give them identifying information after forking over my demographics earlier, such as age, gender, and how much I make? Not today, I think. Leaving the fields blank, I pressed "Submit," and got this:

First name, last name, e-mail address, and phone are "required" in order to submit my survey, even if I don't want to enter the contest? After all this time trying to help you, I have to choose between giving you private information and blowing off the last quarter hour of my life? Why do you need my name anyway? (Can I change my answer on that "casino" question? I thought you meant Picasso.)

There was a third option, of course, which was to provide a first and last name that don't exactly match those on my driver's license. When combined, in fact, they make a sentence. So does the e-mail address that I gave them. The problem, of course, is that I don't know whether the invalid name and e-mail address will cause my results to end up in the waste bin.

No, I don't really believe that my answers were being relayed to the Church. It's just inconsiderate not to warn people up front that personal information will be demanded at the end. That is one survey I won't be taking again.


oussan said...

I kept getting those popups to take the survey, but the 15-20 minute estimate scared me away. I don't mind answering five or ten questions, but beyond that I get pretty impatient.

Aren't surveys supposed to be anonymous? I mean, I know that certain demographic information is necessary to computing statistics, but I thought attaching a name to the survey invalidated the results.

Oh, and it's not just the DesNews - the Trib's got the same survey going right now.

Voice of Utah said...

It's weird. I hurried up some answers to the Trib one, to see if there was some way I might have missed that did not require me to give my name, but no, that one did the same thing. This time I exited out. What a bunch of doofs.

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