Friday, March 10, 2017

The CSM 12 Election As Research: Length Of Survey

Yesterday, I compared EVE Online's Council of Stellar Management election to an online survey. If the CSM is a focus group that has signed non-disclosure agreements, then why not extend the market research theme to include the methodology used to select the body's members?

In my previous post on the subject, I stated that the election was basically a one question online survey. What I didn't discuss was the complexity of the question. Unfortunately, the question isn't, "What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?" Instead, CCP asks players to choose up to 10 candidates out of a list of 64 and then rank them in order of preference. Looked at another way, voters are asked 65 questions. The first 64 questions are yes/no questions, asking if a candidate should sit on the CSM. The 65th question is, "Please rank your choices in order of preference".

Sixty-five questions in an online survey? That's a problem. According to a study conducted by Survey Monkey, the maker of one of the most used online survey solutions, surveys that take longer than 7-8 minutes to complete see increased abandon rates ranging from 5% to 20%. The Survey Monkey research also found the number of questions asked also matters:
"Can we always assume that longer surveys contain less thorough answers? Not always, since it depends on the type of survey, the audience, and the relationship of respondents to surveyor, among other factors. However, data shows that the longer a survey is, the less time respondents spend answering each question. For surveys longer than 30 questions, the average amount of time respondents spend on each question is nearly half of that compared to on surveys with less than 30 questions."
So how do these two facts apply to the CSM elections. First, the sheer number of candidates guarantees a lower participation rate. Even if a voter only takes 60 seconds to consider each candidate, that still means that the voting process will take over an hour. People looking at the list of candidates may just throw their hands up in the air and say that voting is just too time consuming.

The second is that a large percentage of those who do read about all the candidates will likely race through the list in order to get back to playing the game. A perfectly understandable reaction. The amount of time one would need to research all the candidates leaves players willing to take suggestions from others that a player trusts. In terms of time management, voting with a pre-made link makes a whole lot of sense. Of course, that's how bloc voting is sustained. Did I mention that due to the voting blocs, many players believe their vote will have no impact, thus driving down turnout?

I am sure I missed a few other drawbacks of the number of candidates on the ballot. But in market research terms, a successful survey is usually both short and simple, two things we cannot say about the ballot in the current election.

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