Is polling wrong even if helpful? November 26, 2009 11:43 PM   Subscribe

When is a survey/polling type question okay on AskMe?

I run a retail shop and we have an annual boxing week sale. I'd like to use AskMe to find out people's opinions on two different types of sales so that we can pick the one that satisfies the most people.

Am I wrong in thinking this is a break of AskMe's guidelines as it's kind of a polling question, or am I misunderstanding the rule against such questions? Thank you.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy to Etiquette/Policy at 11:43 PM (36 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

this may be a question better addressed directly to the Mods via the contact link at the bottom right.
posted by edgeways at 11:47 PM on November 26, 2009


If you really want to poll the audience, you could setup an online survey and then buy an advertisement on metafilter.

IMO a 'multiple choice' poll is probably the least helpful for metafilter. A broad "I'm thinking about doing/selling X, what are your opinions/experiences with X" -- in other words getting qualitative information, rather then quantitative data.

But I'm not a mod and so my opinion is kind of irrelevant anyway.
posted by delmoi at 12:00 AM on November 27, 2009


The only polling question I ever answered was about whether or not guys eat their own cum. This is a horrible example, unless you run a business centered around guys eating their own cum.
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:06 AM on November 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


You should probably post here how you would phrase your question.
posted by bigmusic at 12:11 AM on November 27, 2009


...In which case you arguably have problems more fundamental than Boxing Day footfall and advertising efficacy.
posted by Jofus at 12:13 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The only polling question I ever answered was about whether or not guys eat their own cum.

Surely the answer to this is situational? Mostly, the answer would be no, but there are obviously times when you find yourself really hungry, you've just made some Belgian frites, and then you find that you're all out of mayonnaise...

At times like that, a man's entitled to improvise, right?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:17 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did you jerkoffs get kicked out of 4chan or something?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:23 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't tell if you're joking or not, but there really was a question about that on askme. It was the first thing that popped into my mind.
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:37 AM on November 27, 2009


bigmusic, I was thinking something like this:

At our retail store we usually have an annual boxing week sale of X percent off all inventory. However, often we find that a large percentage of what sells is what sells at full price anyway so this year we're trying to come up with ways to get the most for these items while simultaneously encouraging people to buy the items that usually stick around. So, we came up with these scenarios:

1) X percent off all items for 6 days.

2) X percent off all items for 2 days then X+5% off for 2 days then X+10% off for two days.

3) X percent off all items for 6 days and 2X off all items priced less than Y for the same 6 days. (Usually, the crap we want to sell during the sale is the stuff that is already below a certain price point).

4) ?

Our concern with #2 is that someone may have an "easy sell" item in their hand on day 2 and just put it back and take their chances on day 3 or 5 to save an extra 5 or 10 percent. This would be bad for us. (Note that almost everything we sell is only available as a qty of 1 and customers know this.)

Our concern with #3 is that it's hard to get across succinctly in an ad and it's a bit complicated when people buy numerous items. (We have numerous customers who buy hundreds of items during the sale.)

Note that 90 percent of our inventory is regularly priced around $10 and almost nothing is more than $100.

Which scenario agrees with you most as a) a businessperson and/or b) a customer?


So, yeah, to me, it seems like it's a polling question but maybe I just don't understand that guideline correctly.

(Note: please don't answer my question here as I don't want to use MetaTalk as a cheat for getting an answer. :)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 12:41 AM on November 27, 2009


I can't tell if you're joking or not, but there really was a question about that on askme.

I'm sure I'm not alone in clicking on your AskMe history looking for the question. Was it deleted?
posted by Forktine at 1:30 AM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest) my agreement with this callout is: 4.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:08 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I think that question would be fine. A good question should have a purpose, goal, or problem to be solved. Yours does. The "bad" type of polling question is those that are just asked out of curiosity, or worse, to start a discussion. E.g., "My favorite type of cookie is oatmeal raisin. What's yours?"

If you were concerned about it, you could make it a bit less poll-like by changing "Which scenario agrees with you most as a) a businessperson and/or b) a customer?" to "Which scenario makes the most sense for my business?" which emphasizes the problem to be solved and de-emphasizes the "what would you, personally, like" aspect. Which is probably a good thing anyway as people may be able to offer relevant information beyond just their personal preference. And people will mention their personal preference anyway whether you explicitly ask for it or not.

this may be a question better addressed directly to the Mods via the contact link at the bottom right.

I disagree. Although the mods have the ultimate say, it's not as if they hand down proclamations from on high and ignore what anyone else wants MetaFilter to be. MeTa threads like this one are a good way for the community to provide input on whether questions like this ought to be allowed.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:43 AM on November 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


My favorite type of cookie is oatmeal raisin.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:02 AM on November 27, 2009


Oatmeal chocolate chip pecan. Not my favorite, but in the top 5.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:54 AM on November 27, 2009


As long as you have a problem to be solved, it's okay. What we dislike are polls that are basically just like "Do you like chocolate or vanilla?" as opposed to "I'm having a party and need to choose an ice cream flavor. I can't get in touch with any guests beforehand. Do you think chocolate or vanilla is a better ice cream flavor to go with risotto?" Your question sounds like it would be fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:49 AM on November 27, 2009


We generally discourage using askme directly as a polling source, not because everything resembling a poll is bad but because we want to avoid having the site be used as a cheap polling source or having a lot of questions that make very little use of what askme does well start cropping up.

It can be a bit muddy, and like a lot of things whether or not the poll/survey nature of a question is problematic is something we pretty much have to make a judgement call on when we see one.

In this case, I'm not particularly bothered by the idea of the question you're proposing because it doesn't read to me like "multiple choice, pick one, thx" so much as "help me understand your thinking/impressions about these different sales strategies", which feels more like an attempt to engage usefully with the thoughtfulness of the community than like a drive-by bit of data collection.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


DA: MeTa threads like this one are a good way...

...and also so the rest of us get to find out the answer to the question we never knew we had. Good MeTa.
posted by ctmf at 7:53 AM on November 27, 2009


Classic Tollhouse for me, please.
posted by fixedgear at 7:54 AM on November 27, 2009


Okay, thanks.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:03 AM on November 27, 2009


this may be a question better addressed directly to the Mods via the contact link at the bottom right.

Yeah, this bugs me when people say this, especially so early in the thread. Don't you value being in a community where we can discuss these things? Where we have the opportunity for discourse on the mechanisms of the site? That's one of my favorite things about MeFi.
posted by ORthey at 8:20 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I agree with ORThey. This is exactly the kind of thing that MetaTalk is perfect for. The admins have a good feel for the community but it is useful for them and for everyone else who participates to know what the range of opinion exists on something like this, which is genuinely a question which could strike people the wrong way (note: this question seems fine to me but I can envision a similar but slightly different question that would be completely inappropriate).
posted by Kattullus at 8:44 AM on November 27, 2009


Personally, I would be annoyed if people started using metafilter to do marketing research. Whether this falls into that category or not, eh, I'm not sure.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:57 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why not post the question, and see if it gets deleted? This is how I survive using the site. Mind you, I have a shit load of deleted posts.
posted by chunking express at 9:11 AM on November 27, 2009


Do you think chocolate or vanilla is a better ice cream flavor to go with risotto?

I always serve risotto on top of an ice cream cake.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 12:15 PM on November 27, 2009


My favorite cookie is actually the Safeway Select Indulgence Chocolate Chip. They are fucking delicious and cheap.
posted by empath at 12:44 PM on November 27, 2009


Here's the question I was talking about, if anyone is still interested. Sorry for the derail.
posted by dead cousin ted at 12:54 PM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you think chocolate or vanilla is a better ice cream flavor to go with risotto?

Its a trick question! Gelato goes better with risotto!
posted by vacapinta at 1:18 PM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


X gets the square!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:10 PM on November 27, 2009


dead cousin tad, I wish I had never, ever clicked that link. Thank God Thanksgiving eating is over.
posted by biochemist at 3:30 PM on November 27, 2009


dead cousin ted, really? Someone asks a question about making a survey for a christmas sale and THAT comes to mind? That is seriously messed up. The question (that you remembered from 2006!) doesn't even make reference to polling or surveys. Seriously, WTF.
posted by whiskeyspider at 5:57 PM on November 27, 2009


Well, it sounds bad when you put it like that.
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:11 PM on November 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


We still have a ways to go here. Some damn fools think it's really neat to just air whatever dopey schoolboy puerile, lewd remarks that pop into their mis-wired brains, regardless of context. Go shout at the abyss somewhere else.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:27 PM on November 27, 2009


I'm not sure what exactly your problem is Burhanistan, but maybe you should go bitch somewhere else?
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:34 PM on November 27, 2009


Weird editing there.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:31 PM on November 27, 2009


Weird editing there.

We do that sort of thing pretty often actually.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:36 PM on November 27, 2009


Some damn fools think it's really neat to just air whatever dopey schoolboy puerile, lewd remarks that pop into their mis-wired brains, regardless of context.

MONKEY EATING CUM
posted by Greg Nog at 8:38 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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