[Linux-aus] surveys - was Re: [Linux-aus] Minutes - 20030517 Summary (Face to Face meeting)

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Fri Jul 4 11:04:02 UTC 2003

On Thu, 3 Jul 2003, Kimberly Shelt wrote:

> Date: Thu, 3 Jul 2003 23:23:49 +1000
> From: Kimberly Shelt <kim at linmagau.org>
> To: linux-aus at linux.org.au
> Subject: Re: [Linux-aus] Minutes - 20030517 Summary (Face to Face meeting)
> > On Thu, 2003-07-03 at 18:43, Bret Busby wrote:
> > > It has since occurred to me, that it would be a good idea to do a survey 
> > > of members of the various Linux-oriented organisations and mailing lists 
> > > in the country, to see who has what qualifications, especially 
> <snips>
> > 
> > Sounds like a great idea! It would certainly be interesting to get some
> On Thu, Jul 03, 2003 at 09:39:27PM +1000, Pia Smith wrote:
> > _real_ information from the community. How would you feel about writing
> > up a survey and we could distribute it? Maybe LinMagAu could have a poll
> > of this flavour in its next edition (no collating of info, easy to fill
> > out, would rock way hard :) Kim? If we do the work how would linmagau
> > feel about this.
> LinMagAu is up for this.. no problems.. I will start building the 
> poll setup.. pretty easy to do.. Bret are you going to do the questions?
> > 
> > It would also be good to get some numbers about what distros people use,
> > the knowledge base in Australia, amount of people who get paid to work
> > in OSS as opposed to those who don't get paid for their contributions,
> > favourite certifications if any, etc.
> So now you want 2(or more) polls :)..sheesh give them an inch :)
> Do we want to do a major survey that has many areas of questions?
> Ie Cert, Distro, Paid or not, Member of LUG or not? :) 
> If so we should look at building a big survey along the lines 
> of previous say "lucent" like surveys..
> If we are happy to go with lots of little ones I can run at least
> a couple next month ?  We could run a bunch of smaller ones with
> the option for people to do 1 or all or any number in between?
> Is there anyone else out there who has suggestions ?
> > 
> > Definately food for thought.
> Chomp :)
> Kim
> --

If wanted, I could come up with a survey or surveys.

The survey(s) could be distributed to the mailing list administrator 
of each (known) Linux-oriented mailing list in Australia, asking that 
each survey be posted to the list, with the request that the survey be 
completed only once, per person, for survey integrity (so that, for 
example, here in Perth, a copy of such a survey posted on the LinuxAus, 
PLUG, and SLPWA lists, gets only one response per person), and, that the 
person, in responding to the survey(s), indicates (where appropriate) 
whether they believe anyone else at the same workplace has 
already completed the survey (eg, as below).

It must be remembered that no survey is foolproof, but, provided they 
are reasonably written, and, that the respondents act responsibly with 
them, they can provide quite useful information.

It would be useful, for survey responses to be directed to a particular 
person (returning officer), appropriately (I believe) a committee member 
or delegated person at LinuxAus, for collating and reporting the 
responses to the mailing lists that took part in the survey.

It could also be a good idea, I think, rather than do a once-off, large 
and comprehensive survey, that might put people off as they might think 
it too involved and time consuming, to do single purpose-based surveys, 
and, perhaps, have something like monthly (?), single purpose surveys 
(not single questions - but single purpose).

For example, a survey relating to operating systems and versions (or 
distributions), could include material such as
(inclusion of the material before question 1, in both the distributed 
survey(s) and the responses, would indicate that the respondents have 
seen the statements involved, so would hopefully assist in survey 
integrity and reliability of information obtained):


This is a survey conducted by Linux Australia, to obtain information 
about Linux usage in Australia, to help the cause of Linux in 
Australia, and to assist Linux users in Australia.

Please respond to this survey request, by snipping the contents 
of the message outside the dotted lines where the second character is a 
"+", and  forwarding your response to 
<Returning Officer> at <email address>.

Please take this survey seriously, as it is done for the benefit of all 
Linux users in Australia, including you.

Thank you in anticipation, for your input.

Please do not complete this survey, if you have already completed it 
(whether from this list or another list).

In answering the questions -
If you don't know an answer, please include that by answering 
"not known".
If you do not want to answer a question because you believe it to be 
too intrusive, or for any other reason, please answer with "withheld".
If the answer to a question is zero or none or nil, please answer "nil".

1. To what Australian Linux-oriented mailing lists, do you subscribe?

2. To which Australian Linux-oriented mailing list was this survey 
posted, to which you are responding?

3. How many computers at your installation:
  1) home?
  2) work?
    (if not known for whole site, your department would be good -
     if answer is for department, please indicate that)
    (if someone else at your workplace has already completed this 
     survey, please indicate that with "otherwise answered" for that 
     part of the question above, and do not answer the questions below 
     relating to work)

4. How many of those are each of the following:
  1) home
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?

  2) work
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?

5. How many of those computers are dual and/or multiple boot systems:
  1) home
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?

  2) work?
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?

6. What operating systems (please include version/distribution) 
     combinations are installed on those computers:
  1) home
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?

  2) work
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?

7. Please list (estimated) percentage of use for each installed 
     operating system (as for question 4) installed on each computer:
  1) home
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?

  2) work
    (1) servers?
    (2) workstations?
    (3) laptops/notebooks?
    (4) pocket computers?


As can be seen from the above suggested survey questions, the 
information that could be obtained from such a survey, could be useful, 
but, a be-all and end-all, comprehensive survey with such detail, could 
put people off responding, as they might regard it as too involved, and 
too time consuming.

Perhaps, running a survey such as the above, periodically (such as every 
six months, or yearly), could also be good, for finding trends, and for
updating information, etc.

The Returning Officer (or an assistant to the Returning Officer), could 
collate the responses and prepare the response report, by some chosen 
method - whether doing it by hand (printing the responses and collating 
all the information by hand), or (given the talent pool), by using a 
Perl script to parse the responses and extract and report the 

There are some thoughts, anyway.

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
 you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
  Chapter 28 of 
  "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
  A Trilogy In Four Parts",
  written by Douglas Adams, 
  published by Pan Books, 1992 

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