'Scientific' Internet polling

Supposedly “scientific” internet polling is all the rage these days. But something that recently happened to me raises issues about just how extensively internet pollsters can now tailor so called scientific polls to achieve the results their clients want to use in their propaganda.  This tailoring may be harder to detect than the weighting done to raw responses by telephone pollsters because online polling has the ability to capture vast amounts of information on each member of the pool of people who have agreed to be polled. 

I am a member on several on-line polling sites that supposedly pick members at random to conduct polls online polls on everything from social issues to entertainment to test marketing new brands of coffee.  I have belonged to them for several years. By now I suspect each organization has a good picture of my philosophic outlook and my tastes based on all my answers.

A couple of months ago I had an unusual experience with the organization most likely to ask political questions. It was a short survey about which woman should replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.   I didn't select any of the names submitted. Then in the comment section I noted that none of the alternative anywhere approached Jackson in historic significance.  I also noted that as a professional women I loathed tokenism.

Three days later something that I had never experienced before in online polling happened.  I received another e-mail from the same organization with a link to an online poll with almost the identical series of questions. It was almost as if they weren't sure about whether I was the person who had responded to the earlier e-mail or if I wanted to reconsider my answers. 

I gave the same answers.

Since then this organization has sent me about half as many polls as they had been sending me.  Even more interesting, they have all been polls on consumer products and services. I have received no further polls on political or public policy questions,

It almost seems as if I didn't given them the answers their clients wanted, so my name is no longer in the pool of names to draw among for political polling.

Supposedly “scientific” internet polling is all the rage these days. But something that recently happened to me raises issues about just how extensively internet pollsters can now tailor so called scientific polls to achieve the results their clients want to use in their propaganda.  This tailoring may be harder to detect than the weighting done to raw responses by telephone pollsters because online polling has the ability to capture vast amounts of information on each member of the pool of people who have agreed to be polled. 

I am a member on several on-line polling sites that supposedly pick members at random to conduct polls online polls on everything from social issues to entertainment to test marketing new brands of coffee.  I have belonged to them for several years. By now I suspect each organization has a good picture of my philosophic outlook and my tastes based on all my answers.

A couple of months ago I had an unusual experience with the organization most likely to ask political questions. It was a short survey about which woman should replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.   I didn't select any of the names submitted. Then in the comment section I noted that none of the alternative anywhere approached Jackson in historic significance.  I also noted that as a professional women I loathed tokenism.

Three days later something that I had never experienced before in online polling happened.  I received another e-mail from the same organization with a link to an online poll with almost the identical series of questions. It was almost as if they weren't sure about whether I was the person who had responded to the earlier e-mail or if I wanted to reconsider my answers. 

I gave the same answers.

Since then this organization has sent me about half as many polls as they had been sending me.  Even more interesting, they have all been polls on consumer products and services. I have received no further polls on political or public policy questions,

It almost seems as if I didn't given them the answers their clients wanted, so my name is no longer in the pool of names to draw among for political polling.