Created on November, 30 -0001
Disclaimer about Online Surveys
|How long will the current recession last?|
|more than 2 years
you’re not familiar with the standard disclaimers about this type
of online poll, I’ll sum it up. The legitimate use of polling requires
sticking to some basic principles of survey research. These include
ensuring you collect observations from a representative sample of
whatever population you want to examine. If you do survey a representative
sample you can then generalize from the behavior, attitudes, or
demographics of the sample to those of the population
they represent. Without explicitly planning for a representative
sample you will always get a biased sample.
the sample collected with my poll, or any web site poll, may be
(at best) representative of all the visitors to my site. The polls
you see reported in reputable media generally stick to the scientific
rules of polling. Web site polls never stick to the rules of polling,
because the people “self-select” to participate. So this poll is
clearly a subset of the people who come to the web site andyfinn.us.
But while you chose to answer the poll, some did not. So a sample
that is allowed to “self-select” can give you information about
themselves, but you cannot then generalize to a larger population,
because the sample is special – it’s not representative of the general
scientific techniques of polling are well-known, agreed-upon, and
not usually controversial. But the issue of how to word the questions
is always open to debate, and slightly different numbers in similar
polls are often due to differences in the wording of the questions.
Which brings me to the reasons why my poll is so much better than
on other web sites.
Why the TAFS Poll is Better
you ever notice that the polls on other sites are usually kind of
silly? First, they usually ask a really simple question about a
real complex issue – for example, “Was Iraq a mistake?” Then they
usually give you two choices – they don’t let you refine your answer
much. I call this the “Bush Black & White, Us vs. Them, Good
vs. Evil, My Way or the Highway” perspective. My poll allows you
to choose from a range of 5 levels of agreement/disagreement. I
call this the “Kerry Nuanced not Flip-Flopped, Gray Areas, I Can
See Multiple Perspectives” perspective. Or as Orwell might have
said in Animal Farm: “Two choices good, 5 choices better.”
And while you may argue with the wording of my item, most people
find they prefer having a range of choices rather than just two.
Now if only it way that way on election day!