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May 13th, 2004

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07:22 am - Mr. Data Entry Mans presents: SURVEY LAW #17
If presented with a field marked "Additional comments?" at the bottom of a
survey, filler-outers will cleverly deduce that this is their one chance
to let the entire world know their feelings on whatever they're feeling
that's however related to the survey at hand -- whether or not the
survey actually deals directly with those feelings.

Case in point: I'm working on a survey given to gauge local interest and
potential demand for a new commuter rail stop. It was given to people
who regularly ride a shuttle bus to and from -- well, I'm not quite sure
where. This survey was not given by the MBTA, nor do I think by the
shuttle bus company itself. It's not a survey to gauge rider
satisfaction, either on the commuter rail or the shuttle bus itself.

These facts do not deter stalwart commuters from recognizing a free
soapbox when they see one, though, and so they use the "Additional
comments?" field to complain about such things as:

* The buses leave too early.
* The buses leave too late.
* The buses arrive too early.
* The buses arrive too late.
* The buses leak in the rain.
* There need to be more bus stops.
* It costs too much to ride the commuter rail (a valid reason, though, for
answering "Would you use the new commuter rail stop?" with "No")

One person ended a diatribe ("Cont'd on back!") with a frowny face; I am
loath to add ":(" to the end of any official spreadsheet entry.

Still, there are some gems. You gotta admire the person who checked off
"Not sure", crossed it out, then re-checked it. That kind of
indecisiveness takes talent.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


Date:May 13th, 2004 07:25 am (UTC)
You gotta admire the person who checked off "Not sure", crossed it out, then re-checked it.

Bravo! Maestro!
[User Picture]
Date:May 13th, 2004 08:14 am (UTC)

But you gotta add the frowny face! It's you duty to ensure that guy/gal's validly stated opinions are communicated to People Who Care directly and in full!
[User Picture]
Date:May 13th, 2004 03:21 pm (UTC)
I was gonna add the frowny face but then I looked over the desk and whoa there was a plant and I went to water the plant and by the time I came back from watering the plant I'd finished the jorb and sent it off without the frowny face oh nos what do I do now
[User Picture]
Date:May 14th, 2004 01:25 am (UTC)
Call your boss and admit to your evil, evil manipulation of the facts. Sobbing will help.
[User Picture]
Date:May 13th, 2004 10:49 am (UTC)
When I did my thesis project, the comments sections were insane.

What was more insane was later trying to convince people that 'any comments?' info is ANECDOTAL. The plural of anecdote is not in fact data, because what people tended to rant about was stuff we never asked, so the rantings of one person could not be seen as epidemic without follow-on research.

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