Polling Techniques

From Big-8.org

This is an initial page to start collecting some ideas about how information may be collected about various aspects of RFDs.

Ideally, the page should eventually be maintained by the Usenet Volunteer Polltakers.

Generic interest poll.

The material on this page should be considered a draft that may be revised as various polling methods are tested.

Interest Polls

The UVP may conduct polls on behalf of the Big-8 Management Board using the techniques that they judge will limit fraud and provide meaningful information. At present, the Board recommends web-forms followed by an e-mail exchange to verify that the person filling out the form has a repliable e-mail address.

Proponents may use other methods as well, according to their taste, time, and talents. The Board will evaluate such polls on a case-by-case basis to see what weight should be given to the poll results in the final decision about the RFD.

Feedback from Usenet

One of the main weaknesses of surveys based on web pages and e-mail confirmation is that they do not show that the respondents understand and use Usenet.

The Board strongly encourages proponents to keep track of positive responses to the RFD and provide a list of such responses with the Usenet ID of the authors and the message-ID of the posts. This list could be published in a companion thread to the RFD thread so that those who wish to see the summary of feedback may do so, and a Message ID pointing to the first post in the thread might be placed in the RFD.

There are, of course, serious drawbacks to placing too much trust in such feedback, since it is easy to multiply Usenet identities. Nevertheless, it seems worthwhile to encourage this kind of feedback since those who are acting in good faith do show their familiarity with Usenet. It may be possible to rank the value of the feedback given in Usenet posts by assessing the quality of the posting history associated with particular IDs.

As with the Interest Polls, time will tell whether feedback from Usenet posts will prove helpful in evaluating the likelihood that a proposed group will be well-used.

Clarifying Usenet Feedback

It may be possible to develop a tradition of providing one's own categorization of one's own feedback using the following scale:

Token Interpretation
+1 for the idea,
it should be implemented,
will use the group
-1 against the idea,
it should not be implemented
+0 for the idea,
will not use the group
0 no opinion
or cancellation of a previous view
-0 against the idea,
but it should not fail to be implemented
on the strength of this opinion

Then again, it may not be possible to persuade people to categorize their own opinions. In the absence of such a classification system, proponents will just have to do the best they can to call 'em as they see 'em and be willing to revise their summaries as needed.