PUBLIC NOTICE TO SURVEY RESEARCHERS: Always offer “no response” as an option or YDAC

Random Cat (detail) photo by Ziggy Liloia (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I am often willing to complete surveys which appear to have a serious purpose and don’t require too much time.  But when I get to the last few questions they are usually something like:

  • What is your household income?
  • What is your race?
  • Something else personal?

Maybe I don’t want to tell you.  If you’re a wise survey designer, you offer me an option like “prefer not to answer” or “human”. But many surveys are less thoughtful, so it has been my practice to abandon the survey at that point. I’ve wasted my time and the surveyor gets no information (or maybe they save the truncated survey, I dunno.  Probably NSA has it.)

But now I have a new system — random numbers.  A spreadsheet can give you one, or get it from a site like this. Or just flip a coin as many times as needed. There’s your answer and it has a random chance of being correct.

So, all you surveyors who don’t provide a “no response” option, your data is crap.  Or more precisely, are crap.  YDAC.  Not my fault.