Oct. 3rd, 2012 09:32 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
[personal profile] liv
A couple of days ago, I got the chance to take part in an opinion poll. It's something I'd always wanted to do, cos I like being asked my opinion about stuff, and I sort of want my opinions to be part of the national scene.

So a chap showed up at my door about 7 pm, and said he was from Ipsos MORI. I have somewhat warm fuzzy feelings towards Ipsos MORI because [ profile] shreena used to work for them, and I didn't have any very urgent plans for that evening, so I asked him in.

The whole thing was much less smooth and professional than I expected. The interviewer didn't entirely know what he was doing; he mentioned being recently trained. And he said it would take half an hour, but it was more like an hour, because he was chatty and because he was really slow finding the way round his survey program on his laptop. I quickly got the impression he had taken the job mainly because he's somewhat lonely, and this was rather confirmed when he told me a rambling story about how he'd lost his job as a postman because after going through cancer treatment he was no longer physically fit enough to do it. I'd just been teaching the med students about how to tell the difference between jaundice and variation in skin tone, and with this guy I wouldn't have been prepared to bet either way.

I think a lot of people would probably have been uncomfortable with the amount of personal stuff he was rambling on about, especially in the situation of a woman alone in the house being visited by a strange man. I mainly got a little extrovert buzz from the encounter, I'm interested in people and their stories. But I was still a little bit annoyed, because I felt he was imposing on my time and politeness a bit, and going beyond the bounds of what is expected as part of his job. I'm happy that he was a little chatty and personal, and didn't just robotically read through his questions, but I think he went somewhat too far. He also wasn't very good at avoiding influencing my answers or expressing his own opinions about some of the questions. He even stood in the doorway chatting about nothing much once the interview was over; I only managed to persuade him to leave because my mother phoned while he was still babbling about some benevolently gender-essentialist thing he'd read.

For some of the questions, he was allowed to show me the computer screen, and my goodness the program is clunky as all get-out! I understand that you can't really give your researchers fancy iPads or fast, shiny laptops, because you'd be setting them up as a target for mugging. But even a slow computer can have a decent UI, and this really didn't.

The questions were an utterly random mix, I had expected that a proper polling org would ask mostly political questions, but there were about equal numbers of political ones and more market-research type ones about brands and shopping habits. Having been exposed to qual research recently, I have ideas in my head about survey design and such, and I would say that the questions I faced were above average but not as great as I might have expected from an expert polling company. A few were confusing, such as using multiple negatives or very unclear definitions.

The computer completely choked on the concept that I am married, but live alone. The interviewer himself was totally fine about it, accepting that the problem was in his software, not my reality, but still. Silly narrow-minded demographic categories! So anyway, now my views about elected police commissioners and switching between banks are part of the pile of data that people will look at to decide things, and that's quite cool, even if it was a bit more of a waste of evening than I would really have liked.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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