How Many Yards Do You Commute To Work, And Other Badly-Measured Intervals.

I’m really sorry I’ve been so dormant lately.  I don’t really have an excuse, other than that I’ve been busy enough with other things that I haven’t been taking many online surveys, and as a result, I haven’t had anything to post.

Today, though, that changes. Hopefully for good? We’ll see.

So I watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother at cbs.com just now, and following it, they gave me a survey from Magid about my use of streaming video, peer-to-peer sharing, and so on. I’ve actually been getting a lot of TV via the internet lately — there’s just too much on at the same time on Thursdays, and I’ve been forced to torrent or use Hulu to watch at least some of it, since my DVR can only do two things at a time, and there seem to be THREE things on simultaneously from 8:00 to 10:00 those nights. Some weeks I grab torrents, others I use Hulu — it mostly depends on when I’ll be watching, because I have kids, and I find it much easier to watch TV with closed captions when they’re around, since they’re noisy little things. If I’ll be watching when they’re home, I often use Hulu; if they’re out or asleep, I’ll often get the torrents, which are usually better quality, and are usually able to be streamed to my TV, too.

Anyway, the point here is to share this incredibly ill-conceived question, which was the one really badly thought-out item in an otherwise pretty solid survey:

quarter hour

Really? You want me to think about how much TV I watch in 15-minute increments? Why on earth would you think this was the right way to ask this question? I had to do MATH to answer the question, counting up the number of hours of TV I watch and multiplying by 4, which might not even be an obvious option to every respondent. The strangest thing is, the 15-minute increment makes no sense in either context. Online versions of TV shows aren’t ever in 15 minute formats — half hour sitcoms run around 22 minutes, and hour dramas are around 44 — and the other things people watch online, like movie trailers and clips of people being idiots on YouTube are much shorter.

I don’t get it. Which I suppose isn’t unusual.

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2 Comments

Filed under answer choices, bad user experiences, Market Research, quality of responses, web research

2 responses to “How Many Yards Do You Commute To Work, And Other Badly-Measured Intervals.

  1. doug

    Actually, they should have asked you to give the natural logarithm of the number of seconds watched. That way, they won’t have to transform the data when they estimate a regression model. Plus, the data in seconds would be so much more accurate.

  2. KJoyce

    This reminds me of a recent RFP I recieved from a client who wanted their fans to recall how much money they spent at certain events over the past 18 months and to list their purchases from these past events in $7 increments – but w/ a limitation that exlcuded any purchases that were not directly made for them but to recall any purchases where they forked out money for friends or family who attended these events with them…. wtf!
    UGLY – was happy to pass on the opportunity… sad thing is that I’m sure some other vendor took the project on…..

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