Poll FAQ

I do a lot of polls on my account at Mastodon. I get the same questions or requests multiple times, so I made this FAQ to make it easier to reply.

Q: Why do you do so many polls?

A: I like to think about topics big and small, from the things we wear and eat to our plans for life.

It helps me a lot to see how much I differ from other people in the way I do things or the way I think about things.

I often ask questions like this to friends and family in person.

Asking online lets me ask a lot of people at once and get some rough quantitative ideas.

Q: What are you going to do with this data?

A: Mostly nothing. After the poll closes, I usually review the results, think about them, and then make a post giving my own answer, as well as addressing any topics that came up in the comments.

I don’t do any quantitative tabulation, publishing, or anything like that.

That said, it’s possible to find the results of the poll using the Mastodon API, so if you don’t want people to know your answer, don’t provide it.

Q: Can you clarify the question?

Q: What do you mean by X?

Q: Define X.

A: I usually will not do this.

I try to use English idioms as clearly as possible.

Sometimes the questions I ask apply in multiple scenarios or in different ways.

Over-specifying the terms would leave out some of these connotations and make it harder for people to connect with the poll.

If you need to, add your personal definition in a reply, and then use it for your poll response.

Q: How do I follow you without seeing all these polls?

A: If you need to, you can filter out the EvanPoll hashtag. I try to be careful to tag every poll.

Q: This poll is not scientific!

A: No, it’s not intended to be scientific. I am not collecting data for publication nor trying to prove any points.

Q: Where is the option for “neutral”?

A: Mastodon only gives me 4 potential answers for polls.

Rather than having 3 options (Yes, Neutral, No), I use all 4 options, but give strong and weak versions of each answer (Strong Yes, Weak Yes, Weak No, Strong No).

The cost is there’s no true neutral. Try to pick a Weak Yes or No. If you really can’t, leave a reply. Or just don’t answer the question.

Q: Where is the option for “never”?

A: When asking about frequencies of seeing or doing something, i will usually give four options: X or more frequent, Y, Z, N or less frequent.

If you never do that thing, pick the “N or less frequent”. Never is less frequent than yearly or monthly or whatever.

If it’s important to you that you point out that you never do this thing, leave a reply.

Q: What does “Strong No” or “Qualified Yes” mean?

A: “Strong” means you emphatically agree with few or no reservations.

“Qualified” means you have reservations. It’s the “Yes, but…” option. If you’re not sure you entirely agree, choose “qualified”.

Note that this is a secondary definition of “qualified” and has nothing to do with your skills or abilities.


Q: This question is vague!

A: This is usually intentional.

I want to know about how people feel, think and behave.

The most interesting questions in those areas are often used with very high level language.

That language is usually vague.

This can be frustrating for some people, who get uncomfortable with vague questions.

I’m sorry if that’s the case for you. You’re more than welcome to do something with your time besides answering vague polls!

Q: Your next poll should be…

A: I am not a wedding DJ and I do not take requests.

If you have an idea for a poll, post it.I often boost polls I find interesting, so make sure to tag it as a poll, and if I follow you I might boost.

Q: I can’t believe you said this terrible thing!

A: I sometimes make polls by writing out a statement and then asking if you agree or disagree.

This can be infuriating if people strongly disagree.

I’ve gotten better about putting the statements in quotes so it’s clear that it’s not me saying them. Sometimes I do agree, though!

I will usually say how I’d answer the poll after it’s over. That’s a good time to tell me I’m wrong.