[Linux-aus] surveys

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Fri Jul 4 15:32:02 UTC 2003

On Fri, 4 Jul 2003, Brent Wallis wrote:

> Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2003 16:55:42 +1000
> From: Brent Wallis <brent.w at infosynergy.com.au>
> To: linux-aus at linux.org.au
> Subject: RE: [Linux-aus] surveys
> Hi,
> Some interesting issues and a good idea, but will the "industry" accept
> the results of a survey carried out
> as proposed?
> I am not throwing mud on the idea, people or the method, but it may
> produce a more effective outcome if it were
> carried out by an independent entity similar to AC Nielsen...
> http://www.acnielsen.com/ 
> (I mention them only as an example BTW)
> Could it be time to consider a professional hands off survey, carried
> out by experts in the field?
> Cost would be a major factor, but a more permanent method of reporting
> Linux installs in the wild seems to be
> a requirement for truly addressing some of the FUD.
> If we could somehow survey whets out there (like Netcraft can with HTTP
> servers) it would be a major achievement.
> hmmmm....an FOSS problem to be solved if ever there was one.
> A client-server model with the right security/privacy profile could do
> more than just report uptimes couldn't it?
> Brent Wallis.

I'd say that the model that I proposed, would be adequate, and, likely 
as good as a survey performed by "professionals".

As long as the survey(s) is/are formally run, with records kept of the 
methodology, for accountability, the running of the survey(s) should be 
equally credible, regardles of who runs it/them.

I think that regular (eg, monthly), relatively small surveys, that take 
a few minutes to complete, would be better than exhaustive surveys that 
put people off doing them, would be preferable, to encourage 
participation (and to bring out the lurkers :)

The least work required by the survey respondents, the more likely 
people are to respond to survey requests.

I suggest that the results would likely be the same, whether 
"professionals" conduct the survey(s), or, whether it is done by 

A forum/mailing list, in which I was involved, some time ago, was set up 
by ICANN/IANA, and the polls/elections, were run by the participants, 
without any problems, and the results of the elections/polls, were 
accepted by ICANN/IANA, without any problems.

People have their attitudes to surveys - some think they are useful, and 
are willing to take them seriously, and others regard them as a heap of 
rubbish. That applies both to the people who are sought to participate, 
and, to the people who are asked to consider the survey outcomes. I 
think that those attitudes do not depend on who does the surveys (unless 
whoever conducts the surveys, has a vested interest in the outcome, like 
a cigarette company testing for health problems from smoking, or, 
certain governments looking for evidence of weapons of mass 
destruction), and, given the way that Linux was created, and the nature 
of the Linux community, I suggest that a survey run by volunteers, would 
be appropriate, and, would probably have greater acceptance (in terms of 
people responding to the survey, as well as people considering the 
survey results), than a survey run by "professionals".

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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