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Sally's Journal
January 26th, 2010
08:56 pm


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A thing which has not happened to me before happened when I was panicking about my Bardcamp packing.

A chap knocked on our door and said he was doing the Coventry Household Survey. Now, I'm sceptical about doorstep callers, but you'd have to be a really intense scammer to make up a list of quite so many odd and tedious questions, and as a government stato I feel I ought to support random slightly uninspired surveys. I can't complain there's never any data if I personally go out of my way to avoid giving them data.

I have a feeling that their survey of Coventry will be horribly skewed to 'Coventry people who are at home and bored enough to answer surveys at 10.30 in the morning', a subset who I don't think are very representative of the rest of us. Anyway, the survey is also on line here, so any Coventry citizens reading this might want to consider filling it in. It's very keen on finding out if you're happy / content / sleep deprived / stressed, so I think filling it in 4 hours before bardcamp, when I was about as joyfully over excited and as sleep deprived and anxious as I get also led to me being slightly unrepresentative...

The chap didn't at any point remark on the fact I was wearing a long rainbow striped waistcoat, of the sort one might have been in the middle of trying on if one was making a clown costume in a hurry. I hope it cheered him up...

(6 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
I had a man from MORI come round the other day. I thought that since I look at MORI surveys I should chip in, but he was annoyingly over-talkative and wanted to tell me all of his many wisdoms and long, long anecdotes about his life. It was very smile-and-nod-at-your-tedious-uncle territory. The funniest question he asked was, 'How long have you been using the internet? Five, six years?'. He also asked if I knew what the daily alcohol limit for a woman was, and since I have a t-shirt with it printed on underneath the words, 'I am sensible' in Gaelic, I do. It's about the only time that knowing that has come in useful, since it's more or less made to be ignored.
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
but not just a long rainbow striped waistcoat ... ?

I'm rather disturbed by the survey: as you point out, it's going to have huge sampling bias, but there's no way that there's sufficient questions in there with the capacity to flag any such bias.

And given that, it feels ominously like policy-driven evidence-gathering 8-(
[User Picture]
Date:January 26th, 2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
Only in your dreams :-p

I think in general, although there are lots of dangers in Asking People Stuff Ineptly, there are also lots of dangers in Not Asking People Stuff (and as far as I can tell a genuine shortage of people who can Ask People Stuff Eptly). If all it proves is that the sort of people who are around at 10.30 on a Tuesday morning are scared of having their car broken into, it's still identified a genuine fear... crap evidence taken with a pinch of salt can be more useful than no evidence...
[User Picture]
Date:January 27th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC)
I have a feeling that their survey of Coventry will be horribly skewed to 'Coventry people who are at home and bored enough to answer surveys at 10.30 in the morning'
And also civil servants/survey takers/et al fed up of being on the other side themselves.
[User Picture]
Date:January 27th, 2010 07:40 am (UTC)
It's a fair cop. But I guess it's not entirely evil to want the world to try to fix the problems I and people like me think are most important. :-)
Date:January 27th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
All surveys are biased towards people who are bored enough to answer surveys, though, like a jury is made up of people too dumb to get out of jury duty.

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