Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An open letter to people who keep sending me survey reminders

Dear People Who Keep Sending Me Survey Reminders,

There are times when I feel that my inbox is too empty. I gaze upon it with longing and much sighing, and find myself compelled to refresh it over and over in the hopes that something will pop up, whether a bank statement, an advertisement, a Neopets newsletter (because eight years later and I still haven't figured out how to unsubscribe from those things completely)... really, anything will do. At times like these, I am indeed grateful to be reminded of the survey that I either A) already filled out or B) decided not to fill out. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for those two-second respites from my abject loneliness and boredom.

When I am not cramming for finals, however, you will find me less appreciative of these intrusions. As Spider-Man once said (that guy is my hero), mailing lists come with great responsibility. They can be deadly in the wrong hands, which is why it seems utterly irresponsible to give out the entire undergraduate body's email addresses to anyone who knows how to use SurveyMonkey.

I do respect that your thesis/study/crusade is very important to you; seeing the volume of mail we get from the university anyway, I suppose I could grudgingly grant you permission to send me one (one!) notice about your urgent survey. Beyond that, however, I would ask that you trust in our ability to remember it for ourselves. We are homo sapiens sapiens. We have working memories of six to eight digits. We regularly manage many score deadlines concurrently. And besides: what school do we go to, again?

If your survey is really as quick and entertaining as you suggest, I'm sure that I would have filled it out after reading your first email (the one you sent me before reminders numbers 2 through 7 and final reminder number 8). If I didn't respond upon receiving one email, you are free conclude that I have no pressing desire to tell you about my sexual experiences, so please do cease and desist.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: persistence pays off in many things, but it will not convince me to answer your questions. Neither will the promise of a raffle entice me to skip over to survey-land. Paying me might do the trick, though. Hint: the standard pay rate for psychology experiments is $12/hour, with a minimum of $8/study. A cookie and a juice box would work just as well.

Best of luck as you complete your thesis/study/crusade,
Lillian Zhou


Anonymous said...

Follow-ups are standard survey methodology, and they do get results in increasing the response rate and often make the difference between a usable survey and a worthless survey. People do forget, and they do change their mind on whether they want to or have time to fill out the survey, so asking again often pays off.

Martha Vega said...

@ Anonymous: does it really? Because I don't think survey reminders have ever changed my mind...