You! Hypocrite Research Spender! – mon semblable, -mon frère!

Thomas Stearns Eliot ends The Burial of the dead (first part of Waste Land) with an excerpt from Charles Baudelaire‘s preface to Fleurs du Mal: “You! Hypocrite Lecteur! – mon semblable, -mon frère!” (in Baudelaire’s original there isn’t the word “You!”). We can translate it in “You! Hypocrite reader, my likeness, my brother!”.

In Baudelaire’s (and Eliot’s mind), the reader is guilty of lies and sins exactly like the author. And sins are not the output of any kind of Devil’s activity but rather the result of boredom.

Recently I answered to an online questionnaire that asked me about “online bet games”. I d0n’t bet often but the curiosity pushed me. And I found a great example of HOW NOT TO WRITE A QUESTIONNAIRE.

  1. The first question asked me if I worked in MR industry (and/or some other ones). This is a stupid, silly and boring custom. Online panelist know perfectly it is a screen-out question and usually they say “No”. If you want to filter skilled people, simply put this question at the end of the questionnaire, perhaps respondents will be more sincere and you will able to consider their answers or not. I simply don’t use such question.
  2. An Awareness battery followed. A classical one: “Please, mention some names of sites offering online bets” (open answer), followed by “Do you know/use these sites?” and a 14 listed names. You know the mechanism: spontaneous awareness and prompted awareness. But respondents know it, too. Perhaps they will minimize their choice considering higly probable you are preparing a lot of boring batteries about each known name.
  3. Stupid solutions to point 2 was… asking a lot of boring batteries about all names  (14). Yeah, sure… I told I knew only 4 sites but the questionnaire offered me 12 questions built like a 1-14 scale: “Amusing. Please order the 14 sites in the places below, higher the place closer to the concept the name is, and vice versa“. Other 11 concepts waited me… (Brilliant, Traditional, etc.). Questionnaire logic wasn’t clear for me: if I told I don’t know some brands, how can I put them in a 1-14 scale defining their proximity to a concept?

Worst: you, Research Spender, which kind of resolutions will you make with such kind of information?

Because I have to assume that you had controlled the questionnaire script… I imagine you considered the potential effects of certain types of wording…

Okay, we are Market Researcher, we have an ethic level a bit lower than a pimp’s (we steal candies while we kiss a kid) but You! Hypocrite Research Spender! – mon semblable, -mon frère! which kind of ROI do you expect from a study?

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