Feature We now have run 50 surveys.  What have we learned? 


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One of the interesting aspects of the Canadian Community News triad (Saugeen Times, Kincardine Times and the Walkerton News) is the Survey feature.

We have now run 50 surveys and every one of them has been intriguing and some surprising.

The comments part of the surveys is fun to read.  That's where people express their feelings in a strong  and sometimes reasoned way.  The surveys augment our active letter section.  In many ways people feel more free to respond in surveys than is letters.  Maybe that comes from essay writing in school. 

We decided early on to avoid time consuming multiple questions in the same survey.  We just ask yes or no questions that relate to something that we've covered in local news or beyond. 

Nobody has been really rude.  We've had very few four letter words that invalidate the comment for publication.  We do compile the results rude or not, of all votes except multiple votes from the same source.  An angry vote is fine, if it is not harmful to others. Voting multiple times is a waste of the voters time.

It is a surprise that some people, despite the instructions, vote more than once.  It's ok, the computer just tosses out multiple votes.  We do save the comments and publish them.  In general the comments from multiple voters are very strong indicating a simmering anger over some issue.  That's fine too as long as it is not mean spirited.  One thing computers do better than people is count.

Some of the issues have been covered in petitions that were compiled on issues of interest in the community.  We've found that our surveys represent a better cross section than petitions do.  We can reach more people and we get yes and no answers, whereas surveys are signed only by people who vote on one side of an issue.  When you hand a pencil to somebody and ask them to sign here, it's not coercion, but sometimes borders on it.

Another interesting aspect of our surveys is the comments are 'stronger' on the minority side.  If an issue is clear cut, people don't comment on the majority side, but do so heavily on the minority side.

We can pump out as many surveys as we want.  If you have one you'd like to see us run, email us. 

saugeentimes@hotmail.com for both the Saugeen Times and Walkerton News

kincardinetimes@hotmail.com for the Kincardine Times

Another thing to keep in mind concerns statistical significance.  We do not sample like a political survey, where age, area and other factors are asked for in the survey.  We get responses from all over the world.  How do we know?  Well, computers know that kind of thing too.

Your opinion is valued and we suspect that officials watch the results of our surveys closely.  We  know our readers do based upon the responses.



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Tuesday, October 11, 2011