Out in the wild

October 17th, 2008

Yesterday morning I issued the invitation to complete the survey that will gather the bulk of the data for my research. It’s surprisingly hard to stop tweaking and send it out for ‘the world’ to view.

I wouldn’t be surprised to get some feedback about the distribution method: I sent it to a number of project and library-related email discussion lists, rather than collecting email addresses and sending out individual invitations. Is it OK to send a message to (potentially) thousands of people, only a small fraction of whom might be interested in the topic of the survey? Of course, I think that my topic is so important that everyone who gets the invitation should respond, but I realise that’s not the case. So why use a list?

First, I have a problem with large-scale harvesting of email addresses from discussion lists. It seems to me that most people don’t post messages in order to broadcast their email address, and that this type of harvesting is dubious from an ethical perspective.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I wanted to offer people who lurk on the lists an opportunity to complete the survey. There is no way of knowing who they are, and I suspect that their contributions will be very important to bring out a perspective that we usually don’t see in the list conversations. Time will tell how successful this will be.

I suppose I should also post the link to the survey here, just in case anyone is reading this and hasn’t received a copy of the invitation. If you use or are otherwise involved with a library/information management free/open source software project, and would like to contribute to research into factors that influence participant satisfaction with the software, you’ll find it at:

http://surveys.sim.vuw.ac.nz/survey.aspx?surveyid=205

The survey will be available until 14 November 2008.

Entry Filed under: Research, Free/open source


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