User Census April 6, 2004 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Hi everyone, longtime lurker, first time poster. During my days in the wilderness poking my nose in here and reading religiously, I've always wondered if there had ever been a "metapoll" conducted of the membership. If there has, please excuse my ignorance (I couldn't find any mention of it). If not, I think it would be the greatest thing ever! Politics, favourite music, movie, country of origin, languages spoken. I'd love to know more about the gang in a non privacy-violating way...Not that I'd know how to go about doing it. Any suggestions?
posted by loquax to MetaFilter-Related at 7:44 AM (36 comments total)

Similar things have been done at Monkeyfilter, but Metafilter seems too big, for the thread to flow smoothly.
posted by Gyan at 8:00 AM on April 6, 2004

If this were to happen, and I think it'd be sweet, someone would have to set it up off-site and collect the data themselves. I'm not sure how the security for that would work (I guess it'd have to be on the honor system) but I'd be interested to see the results.

Anyone interested in setting up a MeFiCensus?
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:06 AM on April 6, 2004

Yeah, I didn't even consider doing it in the threads. Maybe one of those popup things on login for mefi users? Not that I know anything about implementing such a thing. Just think it would be cool is all.
posted by loquax at 8:31 AM on April 6, 2004

This sounds like a job for Miguel.
posted by keswick at 8:37 AM on April 6, 2004

I'd assumed Miguel would already have the information, unless... can you prove you're in Toronto loquax?
posted by biffa at 8:40 AM on April 6, 2004

Previous threads on where people live, and their political leanings.

I'm a lot less interested in polls/numbers/facts about people, and a lot more interested in who they are and why they're here instead of out playing in the sunshine. Noobs, tell us your stories!
posted by fuzz at 8:44 AM on April 6, 2004

Previous thread on what people do for a living.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:51 AM on April 6, 2004

can you prove you're in Toronto loquax?

Hmmm...I'll be watching the leafs and the sens Thursday on HNIC?

Good threads. I guess I'm a just stats junkie and was hoping there were nice tables somewhere with margins of error and everything!
posted by loquax at 9:17 AM on April 6, 2004

so are you in marketing, loquax?
posted by keswick at 9:43 AM on April 6, 2004

Only good intentions born of curiosity, I swear (although I can now see how this can be misinterpreted)!
No, not in marketing, and I'm not a fan of Pepsi Blue or anything else, promise.
posted by loquax at 9:47 AM on April 6, 2004

but...Pepsi Blue is both cool and refreshing! Welcome loquax (i didn't get to say it in the Iraq thread) : >

Here's a gif of the political compass mentioned in the old MeTa thread. Maybe it's time to do a new one?
posted by amberglow at 9:58 AM on April 6, 2004

Thanks amberglow! Good to be here. That gif is good. I've done it myself and I think I was in the lower left quadrant, but pretty close to centre. Nearest to Schroeder and Clinton, if I recall correctly.

I've just been reading for a while and wondered about where everyone was from, and the age groups and interests and that sort of thing. Not asking for a pony or anything, just wondering what had been done and if anyone else cared!
posted by loquax at 10:28 AM on April 6, 2004

I've done it myself and I think I was in the lower left quadrant

I demand a recount.
posted by hama7 at 10:47 AM on April 6, 2004

I've done it myself and I think I was in the lower left quadrant, but pretty close to centre.

I said I was close to centre!

Also, as a non-American, my views on your government and your fine country have nothing to do with domestic policy or anything of the sort. Full disclosure: I'm a nice Canadian social liberal, who believes in happiness and equality for all. I don't want to tell anyone what to think or do, and vice versa. But enough about me, this post was about everyone else!
posted by loquax at 11:07 AM on April 6, 2004

I can tell you who among us owns pugs.
posted by jonson at 11:29 AM on April 6, 2004

You can do a bit better than the honor system; On the census page, you could have the user enter their user number and email, and then check it against what's on the user page. Or something like that. And then, you can prevent double counts by having a list of the users who have voted. Of course, you might need some cool method to prevent people answering for unused accounts... Keeping track of IPs might help a bit, though it wouldn't discourage the really industrious. nem tudom.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:39 AM on April 6, 2004

To run the questionnaire off site, you could get people to sign up and supply them with a short text string or number to put as the very first thing in their user page. After the questionnaire has scraped that and it matches, they would be authenticated.

I also enjoy reading stats. The more pointless, the better.
posted by satisam at 12:25 PM on April 6, 2004

I'm a nice Canadian social liberal, who believes in happiness and equality for all.

my favourite type of human! welcome to mefi.
posted by t r a c y at 3:06 PM on April 6, 2004

Heck, I've got a day off tomorrow, I'd be happy to throw together some Census thingy, just for the heck of it. Been ages since I've done anything like that, should be kind of fun.

Please post suggestions for questions, or mail them to the address in my profile if you'd rather not admit what your questions are in public…

Authentication is going to be a bit tricky without a hand from Matt I'm afraid. I could have people just put in username and password and verify them by trying the login page of MeFi, but I don't think anybody would or should want to trust me with that info; Also, it would be nice if it wasn't necessary to reveal to me which info goes with which username.

The alternative I can think of would require a teensy pony from Matt: reveal to each user (somewhere not publicly visible) a one-way hash of their username and a random secret string you choose. Also provide a hash value of the first hash with some other random secret string you tell me. That way, if a user provides both hashes to the questionaire I can verify that the user is a mefi member, prevent duplicates, and I still don't know their username.

According to google ColdFusion has the Hash() function which generates an MD5 hash which would be ideal, that shouldn't be too much work.
posted by fvw at 4:38 PM on April 6, 2004

Ooh, I applaud your creative thinking Satism! A wonderful idea, I'll do that. Ignore my ponybegging.
posted by fvw at 4:39 PM on April 6, 2004

Hey! That's fantastic fvw!

Umm, I'm sure others could come up with better questions, but how about:

Country of origin
Country of residence
Languages spoken
Age group (15-25, 26-35, etc?)
Religions practiced?
Level of techiness (high, medium, low, etc)
Metafilter visiting/posting frequency?
Some sort of political affiliation question? Although the political compass probably did it best.
Favourite movie/book/music and/or genre?

This is harder than I thought. I'm sure there are better questions out there. I'll add to the post if I can think of any. Anyone else?
posted by loquax at 6:48 PM on April 6, 2004

How about GPS coordinates? That's the pony I've been wanting for the past couple years...
posted by five fresh fish at 7:01 PM on April 6, 2004

take some questions from those purity tests that are online--they have all the juicy topics
posted by amberglow at 7:14 PM on April 6, 2004

Country of origin, countries of residence and current, languages spoken, age (I'll find some pretty way of graphing it), current+past religions, mefi frequency all sound good.

Level of techiness is going to be tricky as a single question, but perhaps with a series of "have you ever…" questions something reasonable can be made.

I'm personally not entirely happy with purported by putting stuff like political position on a graph on the basis of a few questions, especially if you add artificial zero points by drawing in the axes; I'll put in a few abortion, death penalty, gun control questions for shit and gigles though (though I suspect more of the former than the latter).

Favourite <something> is going tricky to aggregate, I think the lists of things have already pretty much been handled in recents posts in the blue and green; If you really want the freeform list I'll put it in though.

Latitude/longitude is definately going in, should be educational to hack up some map projection and distance calculation code for that.
posted by fvw at 7:15 PM on April 6, 2004

What about timezone? It would be interesting to know the stats on who is when.
posted by dg at 7:24 PM on April 6, 2004

Yeah, I can't really imagine favourite things would the best for this sort of thing.

How about married/partnered/single, kids/number, pets? I like the purity test idea. Would you steal if no one would find out? How about from record labels? Timezone is a great idea too. Any way to get the city of residence in there? I suppose it would need a list. How about do you run your own blog/website? For fun or commerical purposes? This is exciting!
posted by loquax at 7:43 PM on April 6, 2004

In other words . . . "a/s/l".
posted by mcwetboy at 7:47 PM on April 6, 2004

Any way to get the city of residence in there? I suppose it would need a list.

If that list included Gwangyang, South Korea, I'd be very very surprised.

For Miguel (OK, and me) : average number of standard alcoholic beverages consumed a) per week and b) before posting to MeFi†. The latter would be more revealing in the detail than the aggregate, though.

Time spent online per day. Time spent at MeFi per day. Time spent whacking the wonder weasel per day. Income bracket.

Well, maybe not the wonder-weasel-whacking one.

†Nota bene : I no longer (well, OK, very very rarely) Post Under The Influence.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:26 PM on April 6, 2004

um the UPC tattoo wendell told me to get isn't scanning. is it "down"?
posted by petebest at 11:24 AM on April 7, 2004

Country of origin is too vague. I have two passports and was born in yet a third country. What's my country of origin?
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:11 PM on April 7, 2004

Any news FWV? If you need a hand, let me know...
posted by loquax at 5:57 PM on April 7, 2004

My name is getting misspelled by the teeming masses, but apart from that all is going well. I'm just getting to the fun bit of putting in the questions after fighting with the rather irregular user page generation code.

Matt, if you're reading this: username.mefi pages for nonexistant users error, and userpages of users who haven't posted links and comments (or both) are slightly off. Also, less importantly for your average user but highly annoying for the scripter is there is no way to reliably map a username to a user number without grabbing all the userids or doing a binary search based on user creation date.
posted by fvw at 8:27 PM on April 7, 2004

Apologies - I'll remember it from now on!
posted by loquax at 8:35 PM on April 7, 2004

Ok, the questions are here. The submitting stuff bit isn't done yet, but I figure you people might as well have a last chance to request changes before we go live.
posted by fvw at 12:05 AM on April 8, 2004

That looks excellent to me fvw. I love the format. I knew the folks on mefi were good, but...

Hope your whole day off wasn't ruined!
posted by loquax at 1:33 AM on April 8, 2004

nice, fvw! I'm impressed--and post a new MeTa when you're ready to go live.
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on April 9, 2004

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