Research on MetaFilter Reading/Posting April 29, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Hey guys! I'm a PhD student in Communications and I'm looking for MeFites who might be interested in a short (10min) survey/interview about, well, MeFi - how you came to it, how you make decisions about what to post and read, what kinds of daily habits you have, and so on. Just head to the link here. More details below - but if you're interested, please complete it BEFORE reading/posting comments on this thread!

This is a pilot study for a larger work into 'mid-level' online communities and how they fit into our everyday life of talking to each other. (It's a little more detailed than that, but I don't want to influence your answers too much; I promise to say more after the interviews.) I've only lurked a little here, so I hate to be That Guy that barges in and asks for help - but I am looking to show how The Internet is not just Facebook + Twitter, contrary to the weight of research these days, and MeFi is the best case I know of large communities with thoughtful conversation and a local culture.

The interview link takes you to a 'survey', but there are only 3 multi-choice questions, then 11 fill-in questions. These are the heart of the interview; please jot down whatever comes to mind, in as much detail as possible. The more small details about habits and thought processes, the better.

Participation is of course voluntary. This study's been approved by MetaFilter staff, and I have IRB approval from my home institution. All personal information will be anonymised. In the event of a publication, I will give each respondent a copy of the manuscript to comment on beforehand if they wish. I can be contacted through mefi.interview@gmail.com.

Thank you again!
posted by derReisende to MetaFilter-Related at 9:12 AM (87 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

That was interesting, I'm very curious to hear more about your study when you are able to share!

(Also, it took me more than 10 min and I gave relatively short answers and type fast. I'd guess that it will take most people 10-20 minutes. And for what it's worth, had this been a phone interview, I would have given much longer and more detailed answers.)
posted by insectosaurus at 9:39 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


For academic studies involving web-based questionnaires it's typically considered good form to provide right at the beginning: contact information for the researcher and the home institution's IRB, as well as the PI or faculty advisor for the study. All of that is missing from your survey intro page - I think inclusion of that information would make people more comfortable with responding to your survey.
posted by needled at 9:45 AM on April 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd guess that it will take most people 10-20 minutes.

At some point, in once of my answers, I wrote:

"You said this was short. You lied."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:47 AM on April 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


This mod vetted?
posted by cjorgensen at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2013


It took me considerably less than ten minutes.

This mod vetted?

"This study's been approved by MetaFilter staff..."
posted by cribcage at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2013


This mod vetted?

Yep, as noted in the post text.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 AM on April 29, 2013


Cool. I skipped that line. My bad.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:56 AM on April 29, 2013


how you make decisions about what to post
How could I possibly allow anybody to be wrong on the internet.
Also I am totally pissed off that this didn't have a strict confidentially section where I could name those I hate, those I crush on and those whom I willfully ignore.
posted by adamvasco at 9:58 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, I thought the thing to do was hit the M&Ms hard and just make up the data? That's not how it's working these days?
posted by nevercalm at 10:04 AM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also I am totally pissed off that this didn't have a strict confidentially section where I could name those I hate, those I crush on and those whom I willfully ignore.

There's a fictional character I have a lot of good feelings for. There's a MeFi user whose account is named for that character, and despite knowing that it's totally irrational, those good feelings are also associated with that MeFite now.
posted by Jpfed at 10:04 AM on April 29, 2013


Also, man, that was long. Survey givers, please understand that navels are really hard to inspect properly!
posted by Jpfed at 10:06 AM on April 29, 2013


Cool, keep us updated and good luck with it all!
posted by iamkimiam at 10:07 AM on April 29, 2013


It's Slarty Bartfast, isn't it Jpfed?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2013


agreed. long.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2013


Mid-level? The word is Exclusive. We keep this shit VIP.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:08 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I wonder if part of the study will be to have more than one person interpret the answers.
posted by Mooski at 10:09 AM on April 29, 2013


It took me considerably less than ten minutes.

Did you read the instructions:

there are only 3 multi-choice questions, then 11 fill-in questions. These are the heart of the interview; please jot down whatever comes to mind, in as much detail as possible. The more small details about habits and thought processes, the better.

Presumably each fill-in question was taking you about 30 seconds then? Hard to think about your answer and provide much detail in that time.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:09 AM on April 29, 2013


That actually took me a long time to answer, but the questions were thoughtful, so it was mostly a fun exercise in realizing I spend way too damned much time here.
posted by Phire at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(1) Huge thanks to everyone. It really does help.
(2) Yes, I'm looking now and it would probably take me 15-20, so my bad for the false advertising! I made a bad guess when I should have calculated more carefully.
(3) Email me (provided in OP) with any questions and hate mail, this is definitely an imperfect affair. Ideally I would have intense chats over coffee with each of you, followed by long walks down the beach...
posted by derReisende at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2013


Doctors of Mefiology are all very well, but when will this website create a professorship? Sponsoring the "Metafilter Professor of Bean Studies" at a reputable college could do wonders for our brand. The MetaTalk Chair in the Philosophy of Moderation, the AskMe Associate Professorship of Dumping the Motherfucker Already, etc - this is how our sponsorship budget could be spent. Instead, we devote all our cash to the multi-million-dollar mod bonus scheme. I say let's have a round of redundancies and spend the $$$ we save on someone who will gaze into our navels for us, freeing us to gaze into other orifices we have too-long neglected. So vote #1 quidnunc kid, and prepare to bend over backwards and stare into your own abyss.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:22 AM on April 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


I had trouble explaining why I don't think that most MetaFilter posts aren't news, beyond saying "they're just not." Only now did I look at the Wikipedia page for "News", which notes news as being "the communication of selected information on current events."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:36 AM on April 29, 2013


done.

I asked for extra mayo and no cheese. Please do not mess my order up this time.
posted by lampshade at 10:40 AM on April 29, 2013


prepare to bend over backwards and stare into your own abyss

So that's where all the fluff in my bellybutton has been going.
posted by arcticseal at 10:46 AM on April 29, 2013


There seems to be a lot more of this about. I blame Kim I do.
posted by flabdablet at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think this took me around 20 minutes, and right when I was starting to think that this was getting to be a lot longer than I expected, I got to the "thanks/you're finished" screen.

I thought it was a pretty enjoyable survey to take. I mean the whole thing is just asking about how you use MetaFilter and the internet and it's basically just a chance to talk about yourself for a bunch of questions, what's not to like?

A progress bar would have been nice though.
posted by jessypie at 10:53 AM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


A comment I'd like to make, as we seem to be getting these research projects more frequently. On the question of length of membership having the final selection be "3+" years might lead to some weird interpretations of the data. Not to brag, but I've been here for 12 years. someone who joined 4 years ago would select the same answer as I did, but may have joined the site for vastly different reasons, and have different experiences as I (as evidenced rather clearly by the recent epic MeTa thread), but we're in the same catergory for your research.
I suppose it depends on what your goal in the study is.
posted by efalk at 10:54 AM on April 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


It took me less than 10 minutes, but I participate more on the Green than the Blue.
posted by kimberussell at 10:54 AM on April 29, 2013


Done like disco.

Took less than 5 minutes.
posted by dfriedman at 10:57 AM on April 29, 2013


I agree with efalk on all their points. Additionally, I'd kinda like to know what prompted your interest in MeFi. Halfway through the survey, I started to feel like the questions didn't reflect any particular love for or understanding of what makes MeFi MeFi, so I checked your profile. Did you join just to post this? Not that that's not ok, but I don't understand it the way I'd understand a long-time user deciding to focus research on the site.
posted by donnagirl at 10:59 AM on April 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


DISCO LIVES FOREVER
posted by mintcake! at 11:05 AM on April 29, 2013


Agreed with efalk about the length of membership categories - I've been here long enough to be able to pick the final selection on that question, but still feel like a noob so it was weird to be in that category. The fact that there ARE so many users who have been here for a decade or more is one of the things that makes Metafilter a rather novel online place, imo, and I would think it must have implications for the way people communicate here and how the site is used ...

Anyway, fun survey - I think it took me about 15 minutes, but it would have taken a lot longer if I'd allowed myself - I probably could have blathered on for much of my workday on that "What kind of reading habits do you have?" question alone.

Good luck with your project, and extra good luck wading through all the results you're no doubt going to receive. I hope you'll share back with us when you're ready!
posted by DingoMutt at 11:08 AM on April 29, 2013


Eh, about 5-6 minutes. Not bad but I can't even be assed to talk to one of the clipboard people outside the grocery store, so 5 minutes for an internet survey is pretty damn good from me.
posted by iamabot at 11:15 AM on April 29, 2013


Completed. Good luck.
posted by mintcake! at 11:18 AM on April 29, 2013


I felt a little weird with the first question asking for a username. Can you explain how it will be used in your research?
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:18 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also, my inner hacker would like to point out there's nothing stopping people from submitting joke answers using other people's usernames.)
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:21 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


First question is optional (most are), and it's purely to match you in the interview with you in the comments in this thread. (Of course, all the questions are vulnerable to practical jokes...)

I've browsed MetaFilter a few times over the last decade but no, as I mentioned in the OP, there isn't a personal allegiance to the site, only that it fits the research criteria best.

Thanks for the point about the membership - it's quite rare in my experience that you need more than 3 years to learn the ins and outs, but I should have added a couple higher tiers.
posted by derReisende at 11:31 AM on April 29, 2013


Done. I always find it interesting to note if people are studying the blue, the green, or the site as a whole. People could probably stand to be a little more clear with that, especially since MeFi/MeFites are terms that could describe the whole site.
posted by Madamina at 11:38 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It took me about 10 minutes. It was interesting to take, but I didn't think of using some other user's user name and now I wish I had. Damn my scrupulous honesty that keeps me from being an effective prankster!
posted by Brody's chum at 11:40 AM on April 29, 2013


I filled it out, but as cortex. Doing jessamyn next.

I didn't fill it out, because you asked for my username. Not anonymous enough.
posted by Sternmeyer at 11:48 AM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


So if people don't comment in this thread, their username is not used in the study?
posted by ChuraChura at 12:05 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Done. Thanks, that was fun.

You may also find the stories at the MetaFilter Memories site interesting.
posted by zarq at 12:13 PM on April 29, 2013


I had trouble explaining why I don't think that most MetaFilter posts aren't news

I don't not fail to disagree!

it's purely to match you in the interview with you in the comments in this thread.

Meaning what exactly? Is this thread part of your study as well, somehow?

Not that I understand at all why people would be concerned about you asking for the username -- presumably users who care about anonymity will not have put personally identifiable info in their profiles in the first place, no? -- but I'm curious what you mean by this.
posted by ook at 12:13 PM on April 29, 2013


There's a fictional character I have a lot of good feelings for. There's a MeFi user whose account is named for that character, and despite knowing that it's totally irrational, those good feelings are also associated with that MeFite now.

Aw, thanks!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:19 PM on April 29, 2013


Done! And fun, thanks!

I too am wondering about the username matching to this thread. I didn't mind providing it, as I consider my MeFi identity pretty much self-contained, but it definitely piques my curiosity. What's the purpose?
posted by Westringia F. at 12:26 PM on April 29, 2013


Done. You know all my dirty little MetaFilter secrets now.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:31 PM on April 29, 2013


Meaning what exactly? Is this thread part of your study as well, somehow?

Basically in case people talk about / expand on their answers in this thread, then I can keep track of that, yes. But I'm not looking up people's profiles or posts elsewhere, I'd definitely have said so if I was. And it's optional (which I should have made super-clear in the question).
posted by derReisende at 12:37 PM on April 29, 2013


Is there any way to go back and change answers after you move to the next page? The first question was so open-ended that I wanted to read through all of the questions before I finished answering it, but now I seem to be locked out of going back or even restarting.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:43 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically in case people talk about / expand on their answers in this thread, then I can keep track of that, yes. But I'm not looking up people's profiles or posts elsewhere, I'd definitely have said so if I was.

Ah, gotcha; thanks for clarifying. (Too bad, though; you'd have been able to get a better handle on the 'how long have you been a member' question by looking up users' profiles -- I agree with the several people above who mentioned that "3+ years" is way too broad a category to be meaningful...)
posted by ook at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2013


That's weird, I didn't even notice the first question asking for my username. So, the blank ones are all me.

I did think it odd that Metatalk wasn't included in the options for the 'which part of Metafilter do you use most' question, particularly because the study is about online communties. It also ended like Hitchcock's Vertigo. Blam, The End. I wanted to be asked about my special snowflakey opinions on the survey itself. It also would have meant I wouldn't have had to post this.

Anyway, good luck with your study. I did enjoy taking part. I hardly lied at all. A+++ would answer again.
posted by Elmore at 1:05 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ideally I would have intense chats over coffee with each of you

You could consider this, perhaps for another study in the future. I do all of my research as phone interviews that I record. Can't buy my participants coffee, but I do send them a gift card thanking them for their time - which they could use to buy coffee, or whatever they desire.

Let me know if you want to hear more about my methods and we can set up a time to chat. ;)

And, yeah, it would be nice to have the IRB information and your name and advisor's name on the survey itself.
posted by k8lin at 1:20 PM on April 29, 2013


I also felt weird putting myself in the most senior category at 3+ years. I've been here almost 7 years and still feel like a $5 n00b.
posted by arcticseal at 1:22 PM on April 29, 2013


I had to add special snowflake details in an unrelated question because the multiguess section didn't quite fit right.

/OCD, Aspie-type accuracy.
posted by Michele in California at 1:32 PM on April 29, 2013


I could name those I hate, those I crush on and those whom I willfully ignore.

Marry-kill-fuck, the Metafilter version? Could be interesting.

Survey was fun to do. Navel gazing is hard.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:37 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this took me around 20 minutes, and right when I was starting to think that this was getting to be a lot longer than I expected, I got to the "thanks/you're finished" screen.

I actually typed like, "I'm sorry, I think I'm running out of steam. I over-committed on the first few questions." on what turned out to be the last question.

Also, I appreciated the opportunity to blather about myself and feel important.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:46 PM on April 29, 2013


Halfway through the survey, I started to feel like the questions didn't reflect any particular love for or understanding of what makes MeFi MeFi

Yeah, it was a bit odd answering questions from someone who didn't seem to be terribly familiar with the site or its history.

Also, 'What part of MetaFilter are you usually on?' was missing MetaTalk. I realise that always hitting MetaTalk first probably means I'm a total weirdo, but it is and always has been the most interesting part of the site to me.

Anyway, those quibbles aside, it's always fun to witter on about MetaFilter and I look forward to reading the manuscript when it's done.
posted by jack_mo at 1:47 PM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


There was no way to indicate that I read MetaTalk waaaaay more than either The Blue or The Green.
posted by carsonb at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2013 [5 favorites]



There was no way to indicate that I read MetaTalk waaaaay more than either The Blue or The Green.


But there isn't that much here to read!

That was short because I've never posted in the blue. And sweet because oh navelgazing is my favorite sport!

Good luck wit your PhD!
posted by ipsative at 2:07 PM on April 29, 2013


"Marry-kill-fuck, the Metafilter version? Could be interesting."

I thought we already established that the answer to the "marry" part of that question was "everyone!"
posted by Jacqueline at 2:17 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


So fun to do. One of my favorite things about this place is all the contemplation we do about how we got here, what we like, what we hate, how well we function, and whether there are better ways of asking and answering those questions.

Also, nice to realize that in August I'll have attained my 4th year here. I too still fell like a bit of a noob.
posted by bearwife at 2:17 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I realise that always hitting MetaTalk first probably means I'm a total weirdo..."

Nah, I think that's actually pretty normal. Experience teaches us the prudence of first checking whether there's any epic drama unfolding on the Gray lest we accidentally step in it on the Blue or Green. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 2:24 PM on April 29, 2013


This survey just reinforced for me that I'm a weird outlier on the metafilter scale of normality. I've been here for 13+ years, but I have fewer comments/posts than folks who have been here 2 years. 25% of my posts have been MeTas. My cat has only tried to post on my behalf once. I generally try to surround myself with the witty and the smart wherever I go on the net, so MeFi isn't that far off from my interactions elsewhere. Etc. etc.

Still, glad to help. I only made up one word in my responses, so that's a win!
posted by julen at 2:54 PM on April 29, 2013


Wait - MetaTalk has sub-sites, now? When did that happen?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:02 PM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "Wait - MetaTalk has sub-sites, now? When did that happen?"

The question you really want to be asking is 'what's their safe word?'
posted by zarq at 3:11 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are these meta-subs ok to eat?
posted by Elmore at 3:14 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are these meta-subs ok to eat?

Just be careful when the meta-subs are offered at a discount. Also, do not stick them in the fridge for later as they do not re-heat well.
posted by lampshade at 3:51 PM on April 29, 2013


> I felt a little weird with the first question asking for a username.

I didn't mind that, but it did feel odd that the only username question was what is it
and not why?
posted by jfuller at 4:17 PM on April 29, 2013


You might want to get in touch with the user who did a similar study, discussed in the thread What made you pay?
posted by k8lin at 4:35 PM on April 29, 2013


derReisende, do you know about Recent Activity? A lot of the questions were about following or checking back on threads, which is so easy to do with Recent Activity that I'm not sure how much it really says about my habits here.
posted by that's how you get ants at 4:49 PM on April 29, 2013


Also, do not stick them in the fridge for later as they do not re-heat well.

They re-heat better if you leave them sitting on the counter.
posted by carsonb at 6:10 PM on April 29, 2013


"How is it different to the standard you'd use for other websites (Or Ask / MetaTalk), or when you talk to your family or friends?"

what
posted by ODiV at 7:42 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


family? friends? there is only metafilter
posted by not_on_display at 8:45 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


carsonb: "There was no way to indicate that I read MetaTalk waaaaay more than either The Blue or The Green."
Yeah, that threw me for a few seconds as well.

Like a couple of other people, I got the distinct impression that the survey had been developed by someone who doesn't have a great grasp of the MeFi 'culture'. If this is a pilot for a future work, it might be good to engage a bit more with the community so that questions can be a better fit with how people actually interact with the site and the community. This is particularly the case when you consider that people who are even semi-regular on MeTa (where such a survey has to be launched from) are probably different to those who are MeFi and/or AskMe specialists.
posted by dg at 9:29 PM on April 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


"How is it different to the standard you'd use for other websites (Or Ask / MetaTalk), or when you talk to your family or friends?"

Yeah, I was confused by that one too.
posted by nangar at 9:29 PM on April 29, 2013


I occured to me much later that your question about "posting" may have been referring to "post a comment" rather than "post a thread". The latter seems to be in more common usage here than the former. I only have two posts (threads) but I have a few hundred comments.

You might also want to take into account that since you were only able to post your survey to Metatalk rather than Metafilter or Ask, your results are going to be skewed towards "grizzled, drama-hungry veteran" rather than a more typical user.

Good luck with your PhD.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:53 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I've always kind of hidden my participation in MetaFilter from my real world pals. I never really thought about that until I took this survey. I suppose I do it for a couple of reasons. One, so I can pretend my contributions here are more anonymous than they really are. And two, because I don't want this place filling up with every idiot with half a sawbuck, many of whom I already endure in meatspace.

I also like to pretend that someday my kids will figure it out and find all of my contributions here, and it will be this delightful surprise to them, and they will suddenly have all this new found respect for me.

Man, my participation is really dependent on precariously piled slew of delusions. I never realized that before. I think I need a beer.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:58 PM on April 30, 2013


Toekneesan, you recently friended me on twitter and I was totally confused as to whether it was because I do business with your org in real life and know some of your colleagues or that you saw me on some twitter list of Mefites.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2013


Fortunately it's a very BIG university, and frankly I had no idea it did business with you. You do mean the university and not the press specifically, right?

I followed you on twitter because you're pretty smart and interesting here. Wanted to see if you could do that in 140.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:21 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I followed you on twitter because...[I] wanted to see if you could do that in 140."

That is my new favorite excuse. (for everything)
posted by iamkimiam at 2:42 PM on April 30, 2013


I had trouble explaining why I don't think that most MetaFilter posts aren't news, beyond saying "they're just not." -- I think I went with "creative non-fiction". :)

As I said in an earlier research-related MetaTalk: I've posted to the blue 4 times in 12 years, and if I hold true to pattern, my next two posts will be in 2021. Probably after I take a long break from MeFi.
posted by epersonae at 4:14 PM on April 30, 2013


Also, this: MetaTalk Chair in the Philosophy of Moderation would be AWESOME. Vote quidnunc kid indeed.
posted by epersonae at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2013


Too many meetings...

Yes, the more I hung out at MeFi the better it would be for the study. This is a pilot but I'd expect to do something more comprehensive after that, and know the ins and outs of the place. (Though apparently, that takes more than 3 years... :p)

Beginning to read through the answers now, a couple hundred or so completed ones which is totally awesome of you guys for something that takes longer than a typical survey.
posted by derReisende at 7:09 PM on April 30, 2013


Huh. Ok, I think my answers will stand on their own since I did total stream of consciousness typing (you did say it was an interview)
posted by lysdexic at 12:42 PM on May 1, 2013


Crap, I was wrong about when I joined. The reason is the same, though. Found this place in 2001-ish, joined in 2002.

God, I'm old.
posted by lysdexic at 12:43 PM on May 1, 2013


Um, hey, I don't mean to be a dick, but providing the information and consent forms is pretty much mandatory with an IRB-approved project. I mean, that is why they make you write it up before you get IRB approval; that way, not only will they know how you are informing subjects and obtaining consent, but you will also have a handy-dandy copy saved on your computer to copy&paste to the front page of your questionnaire, and/or to hand out to your subjects.

Shit like this really irritates the IRB.
Also, obviously, it is really irritating me.
posted by vivid postcard at 9:48 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, you're right - I was trying to keep the main post short and went by precedent but it should still have gone in the 'survey'. It should look something like this:

"You are being asked to participate in a study on online communities, information sharing and writing/reading habits. You are being asked to participate in a long-form survey which will ask general questions about your writing and reading habits and decision-making.

Participation is voluntary. You may refuse consent, or withdraw at any time during the interview/survey, without any loss of rights or benefits. The records of this study will be kept private. Transcripts will use pseudonyms to protect your privacy. In any public report or publication, we will not include any information that will make it possible to identify you either online or offline. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact mefi.interview [at] gmail.com, or the supervisor of the project at ms3035 [at] columbia.edu."

Since this is a pilot study and how it fits in a manuscript for publication is up in the air, I'll have to talk to IRB and sort out the kinks, e.g. retroactively ask individuals again if necessary.
posted by derReisende at 2:33 AM on May 3, 2013


Well, that's good I hear. I am still really unclear why to are not identifying yourself or your institution. I can see why you might not want that above the fold, but that info is mandatory for consent.

I get that this is a pilot study, but you already sought approval and mention that you will be looking towards publication. This leads me to believe that you want to use this data in your publication, which you cannot do without proper consent.

Even if this is for a class, the moment you put this info in a paper to publish, you are attempting to generalize it (contribute to public knowledge, etc). If this is for your diss, you HAVE to obtain proper consent, because that is not a practicum project, but actual research sponsored by the university.

Frankly, it makes me really uncomfortable to see a researcher claiming IRB approval, not even naming his/her institution, and then asking users to provide their user names as the first question in the survey. I mean, as far as we know, you are just some dude who learned the term "IRB" and are using it to pull a scam...

I am really not saying you are, and since it seems that your advisor is Michael Schudson at Columbia, this is legit. But the way you are doing this is not.
posted by vivid postcard at 3:07 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The survey is now closed - thank you so much to everyone for participation and for general attention.

My name is Sun-ha Hong and I am a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. As anyone who completed the survey can obviously see, the pilot study was intended to show the relationship between a community like MetaFilter and news - it talks about news, sometimes it's an important source of news, it involves its own kind of selection and commentary of news, but it wouldn't count as a 'proper' source of news. Of course, the general idea of 'news' has existed in other forms besides our own, but we - including many MeFites who responded - tend to use journalism's definition. So how does that definition of news influence the way we see and behave regarding this kind of 'not-quite-news', and in turn, how does this kind of 'news' production & consumption, often difficult to track or take account of, feed into the proper news if at all?

Obviously this was a fairly simple pilot study and was intended to show the gap rather than 'prove' things substantively. Also taking up vivid postcard's correct criticism, the IRB consent forms should have been handled better. My belief is that it is very unlikely a publication will use the pilot study data; I'd mentioned it in the OP just to be safe. But as I already mentioned, I'll still need to talk to IRB about the best way to deal with my error. (By the way, yes, but Professor Schudson was a visiting scholar here.)
posted by derReisende at 12:35 AM on May 9, 2013


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