Monday, October 6, 2008

Introduction to The Most Outrageous Survey Award, Ever

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There are good polls and there are bad ones. Another category is the inappropriate survey, which defies the world of logic altogether.

A good poll has a scientific basis. Most of them are very specific in what they're asking their participants. Questions are carefully formulated. Good interviewers are also very thorough in the choice of their respondents and need to know personal details, like gender and age, to enable them to come up with the correct conclusions in the subject matter.

All other surveys are basically not much more than a sort of pastime or webpage stuffing. Sometimes they are silly and useless, others are downright hazardous. They create unrealistic expectations and false conclusions. Respondents are sometimes led to believe they can influence a given situation, which isn't the case at all, unless the survey is directly related to official elections. Other good surveys can come in the form of focus groups or scientifically controlled exit polls. But those you will not find in webpages as stuffing.

Bad polls may be asking the wrong questions. Other times the queries are wrongly formulated, asking leading questions or using other trickery so as to manipulate the outcome. Or the subject matter is unsuited to a survey, calling for an opinion about given facts that by nature cannot be changed at all, rendering the opinion of the respondent irrelevant.

We reward the top three submissions with a copy of Anthony Rizzi's book "Science before Science", and any other goodies our sponsors may come up with during the course of the contest.

The winning survey will be rewarded either with virtual tarring and feathering treatment, or alternatively a form of digital egg and tomato pelting. We haven't decided yet. We are open to suggestions (provided they are basically benign; we don't want personal injuries or clogged servers).

Everybody is free to submit their nominations, either by sending us an email or by posting a comment. We will respond with confirmation and some legal stuff. The contest is open for all the world's capable inhabitants, provided submissions are accompanied by a weblink or an URL to the nominated survey, and case need a legible English translation. Please also provide contact information, as we cannot trace anonymous winners.

We ask you to submit your nominations at any time before 30th November 2008, noon GMT. We will then select the three most outrageous examples, from which you as participants, will select the Number One of your choice before the year's end.

We are honoured to be able to take some action on this matter. If successful we can make it an annual affair, but the real success lies in eradicating the poll as a mindless form of amusement altogether. Please let us know if you have any further remarks, additions, comments or anything else you might like to contribute.

Meanwhile, have fun and good luck!

Cassandra,

for The Most Outrageous Survey Award 2008

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