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Thread: Poll/Polling Advice

  1. #1
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    Poll/Polling Advice

    Gents,

    We do not have a single cogent policy on how polls are to be used here on the site, nor to we limit their use to members in any particular user group. What we do want to do, however, is to insure that we use them in moderation, and that we construct them as intelligently as possible.

    On the moderation front, this means that, if you hit "New Posts," and can already see an open poll on whatever topic on the first page or two, it would probably be prudent to wait a while before adding another. Some guys get irritated when new polls are continually popping up (especially those which serve limited purposes -- more on this in a moment), while most simply learn to ignore them altogether. Post a poll if you wish, but just try to wait for a lull in the polling action before you do.

    With respect to constructing them intelligently, we're assuming that you aren't posting a poll simply to get recommendations for product-x versus product-y, or some other issue that would likely be best addressed via a thorough search of the site. The problem we see with most polls is that they require dialogue in order to really make sense, or for folks to anchor their opinions to something substantive, and many polls just encourage a hit-and-run approach. That serves no one well, including the originator of the poll who was obviously seeking some kind of information or answers to a particular question. For example ...

    Option 1 - You should buy a 3rd-generation Glock 19.
    Option 2 - You should buy a 4th-generation Glock 19.
    Option 3 - You should buy some other Glock model.

    In this case, the poll eliminates any discussion about why a Glock pistol might not even be the right choice to begin with, and it completely fails to account for the factors that might make one model preferable over another. These points may come up in subsequent posting activity, but without them, the poll itself is pretty worthless.

    The other obvious problem with many polls is that they contain enough innate bias or intentional weighting as to be completely useless in any real search for the truth. For example ...

    Option 1 - My parents are well-aware of my homosexuality.
    Option 2 - My parents are not aware of my homosexuality.
    Option 3 - I choose not to openly discuss my homosexuality.

    In this case, since the overwhelming majority of potential respondents will be of a decidedly-heterosexual bent, the value of the poll is absolutely nil, as there are no options which really afford a neutral point of entry, much less an accurate response.

    We see this quite often in polls of a political nature, where the opening assumption is that the current administration's ideology is always wrong, the President is portrayed as an unqualified, un-American, foreign-born socialist, and current legislative processes in Washington are always presented as in direct opposition to our Constitutional rights. There may be elements of truth in all of these assertions, but you can't post a hopelessly "loaded" poll and expect to get any substantive (meaning objective) results from it. At best, you will get group commiseration that will likely turn highly contentious in relatively short order. If you are creating a poll, please take care to make sure that you aren't attempting to guarantee a particular outcome by skewing the manner in which you construct the possible responses.

    Again, this is not a policy, but rather a philosophy on the effective use of polls. The purpose here is not to flog those who violate the spirit of what we've said here, but rather to provide guidance to those who are considering a poll, but really want to do it right. Just keep in mind that most polls are soliciting a yes or no answer to a particular option, whereas a lot more learning will likely take place if you ask something that requires a reasoned discourse instead.

    AC
    Stand your ground; don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here. -- Captain John Parker, Lexington, 1775.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Army Chief View Post
    For example ...

    Option 1 - My parents are well-aware of my homosexuality.
    Option 2 - My parents are not aware of my homosexuality.
    Option 3 - I choose not to openly discuss my homosexuality.

    Wow, must have missed that one. Rather unfortunate because I was finally going to start my very first and own poll about whether it's best to go with Dancing With The Stars, American Idol or the latest NBC sitcom this week. On my own now I guess.


    In all seriousness, message understood and thanks for the clarification.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Safetyhit View Post
    Wow, must have missed that one. Rather unfortunate because I was finally going to start my very first and own poll about whether it's best to go with Dancing With The Stars, American Idol or the latest NBC sitcom this week. On my own now I guess.


    In all seriousness, message understood and thanks for the clarification.
    Ahh, just go ahead and post it. lol

    AC
    Stand your ground; don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here. -- Captain John Parker, Lexington, 1775.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Army Chief View Post
    Option 1 - My parents are well-aware of my homosexuality.
    Option 2 - My parents are not aware of my homosexuality.
    Option 3 - I choose not to openly discuss my homosexuality.
    It's a sad state of affairs when an openly sarcastic post about polls actually reflects the current state of government and public-education questionnaires.

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