Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Surveys - One of the Biggest Time Wasters Around

Since when have surveys appeared like a weekly plague of locusts? It appears to have transpired all of a sudden. At one time one's inbox - snail mail and email - were relatively free of this detritus and now one finds surveys each time one opens one or the other. I can't begin to count the surveys sent to me by email in the last two weeks - but I estimate it's around 100. Each one insists it's "terribly important" to know my take on this, that or the other issue. Many are sent by commercial outfits from which I may have purchased a product and now wish to know all about that "experience." (Seriously? Ok, the product served its purpose and no defects. You don't have to ask 20 questions on it!)

Then there is my credit card company, with which I had to recently get an issue straightened out on a billing dispute - promptly followed by a "customer satisfaction survey".   The mail situation is no better, and yesterday three separate surveys were received - from NCPSSM (National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare), "End Gun Violence Now" and People for the American Way

Other surveys come in from a number of sources including the online media I use, as well as Mensa (wanting me to take a survey to help them ascertain how to improve the Mensa Bulletin). But is all this quantifying really necessary?

It appears survey generation quantity  has exponentially increased and quality has gone down - often spotted when you see the typical  1-5 scale spaces and are asked the extent to which you agree or disagree - since the advent of Survey Monkey.  According to a Wikipedia entry:

"SurveyMonkey is an online survey[ development cloud based ("software as a service") company, founded in 1999 by Ryan Finley. SurveyMonkey provides free, customizable surveys, as well as a suite of paid back-end programs that include data analysis, sample selection, bias elimination, and data representation tools"

So as opposed to earlier decades and years, when one had to thoughtfully plan and design the appropriate questions for a survey - as I often did after public astronomy courses - now a computer simply spits out the templates which the user outfit then tweaks for its particular issues. It is simply too convenient, too cheap and hence ready-made for misuse and overuse.

This is confirmed by a subsequent stat that 90 million surveys are now generated and used per month as of 2015. This is absolutely ridiculous, another case of the information (often useless) overload that now besets our world and why many people feel saturated- even as the 'paradox of choice' paralyzes their effective responses and actions on many fronts.

Surveys, allegedly designed to gather information - say on consumer satisfaction - have now become another nuisance one grade up from spam. It is time to pull the plug on the survey maniacs - and at least have them temper their survey generation as opposed to making the end simply justify the means of bean counting for its own sake.

There are better uses of time than taking dozens of stupid surveys every week!

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