I mentioned this a week or so ago as part of another thread. I've been
thinking about it ever since, and I've decided to go ahead and try to pull
together something to do this.
The idea: try to get a real-world, statistically significant view of the
"average" mailing list user. I plan on doing this by creating an online
survey (maximum 25 questions), and asking list managers to post a pointer to
it on their lists, and list users to ask the list manager to post the
pointer (I'm going to explicitly tell users not to do it themselves; I
expect to be ignored by some, of course)
I'd like to get 10-25,000 users worth of data here. More would be even
better. Front end PHP, back end MySQL. I plan on trying to limit it to one
submission per email address (using MD5 hashes on the address -- your
suggestion welcome for alternatives) so I can try to recognize that I've
seen an e-mail address, but not actually store the address for privacy
reasons. Failing that, I'll simply set it up so that multiple submissions
overwrite each other (last in wins).
Part of this is to try to figure out what users REAL preferences are on a
large scale -- we've had endless fights over reply-to, over subject line
flags, etc, etc. Let's see if we can figure it out once and for all.
I also want to try to figure out how these preferences change based on
various aspects of the users -- how do newer users differ from experienced
ones? That sort of thing.
Finally, I want to see if I can figure out where these users are heading --
see if we can get hints of where this stuff will be in a year, or 3.
What's this mean for list-managers? I'd like feedback on things you'd like
to find out here. Obviously, I'd like you to post the finished survey to
your lists, but for now, what I really want are ideas of what to ask, and as
I start building the survey forms, to comment on and help improve them, so
this stuff will be generally useful to all of us.
I don't expect to have a draft of the survey for a few weeks, but please
start sending suggestions of what should be on it now. It'll help me focus
what ought to be on it. Right now, I see splitting this up into a few
1) about the user: how long on the net, platform, client, etc.
2) functionality issues: html, MIME, reply-to, subject flags, etc.
3) other tools: usenet, IM, etc.
4) lists subscribed to (one reason I want to be very careful about privacy;
I don't want people to avoid listing, um, sensitive or adult lists)
Since I want to keep this pretty short (25 questions or so, to keep from
intimidating users into giving up), I don't think we'll get everything we
want. But feel free to suggest things,a nd we'll decide later what to make
Your thoughts on this more than encouraged...
Chuq Von Rospach, Architech
com -- http://www.chuqui.com/
The Cliff's Notes Cliff's Notes on Hamlet:
And they all died happily ever after