Picking On Yahoo, Part Two

I rarely fill out surveys online, but given the ridiculous new password-prompting policy on Yahoo, I jumped at the chance to help them out when I saw their prominent “Help Us Improve Yahoo” ad on my Yahoo Finance page. Sweet fennel! A way for me to quickly and constructively voice my displeasure about Yahoo without having to interrupt Dustin from his Tetris experiment.

Clicking on the survey link, however, led to one of the worst designed surveys I’ve ever tried to participate in. Here’s the screenshot:

So what’s wrong here? In order of importance:

  1. This is not even a survey about Yahoo Finance. It’s about Yahoo Mail.
  2. I count 9 questions on the screen and I’m only “10% complete”. I extrapolate from this that in order to complete the survey, I will need to answer ALMOST 100 QUESTIONS. This was the point that they lost me… and I *wanted* to fill out a survey.
  3. Each question has 10 choices. Is that *really* necessary? How about just “poor, neutral, excellent”? The amount of brainpower required to make such granular judgements is prohibitive in surveys like this.
  4. Once I decided that I didn’t want to fill out every single item on this survey and maybe just check if there was anything related to Yahoo Finance or the password-prompting thing, I clicked “Continue” to quickly skip to other screens. Sorry, no go. It’s all or nothing. Unless I’m willing to fill out every single radio button in this survey (in order!) I cannot even participate. I want to give Yahoo *some* data and they won’t take it unless I give them *all* data.

This is really bad practice, Yahoo. You have presented a survey that will not only receive much less participation than it should, but the data you *do* get will not even be representative of your user base. The only people who will fill this out are people who are extremely patient, extremely concerned about you, and in possession of a lot of free time. Is that really representative of your user base? Cut this thing down to one page and you’ll learn a lot more.

* On a humorous note, I just noticed two links in the upper right side of the screen: “Yahoo Privacy Policy” and “Decipher Privacy Policy”. I thought it was an attempt by Yahoo to be funny about how long and indecipherable their privacy policy is. Nope. Turns out the company who provides the survey goes by the name of “Decipher”. Ha!

13 comments on “Picking On Yahoo, Part Two”. Leave your own?
  1. Oliver Zheng says:

    It’s not just Yahoo’s surveys that are like this. I’m in university and some of our surveys are hand made by script kiddies and some are by those survey sites. Either way, it’s just as bad. The really shitty thing is they will never tell you the progress, they tell you, “you are almost done” when you are actually only a third way.

  2. Dustin Diaz says:

    Wow. That is bad. I can still say that I’ve seen worse in other places of Y!, but most of the new wave of developers that have come into Yahoo! see all these things and most definitely want to fix them. It’s just great that you’re bringing them into the light because it perhaps puts more attention to it.

    And btw, thanks for not disturbing the tetris experiement ;)

  3. david gouch says:

    I just had this experience with a survey at school. I wanted to help and give the information, but I really didn’t have half-an-hour to spend answering four pages of questions.

    So now the school doesn’t get my input and ends up with much less representative results.

    It’s like asking for money: people will give you a dollar, but they’re gonna walk away if you ask for a thousand.

  4. Oliver Zheng says:

    David, it’s more like asking for a dollar in 100 pennies instead of a loonie (that’s what we call a dollar coin here in Canada).

  5. Bradley says:

    Mike, you were the first to turn me on to ABC’s streaming media player. Since then, I’ve noticed a couple of issues, one being that the commercials are drastically louder than the features (just like regular TV!), which is a byproduct of preserving dynamic range in the feature and compressing the audio to hell on the commercials. Bottom line, don’t watch ABC’s online stuff with headphones on. (Or, do this and sue.)

    Needless to say there are other things that need attention, so I jumped at the chance to take a survey. It turned out to be 15 pages long. All the questions were like, “Since you saw commercials from Ford, how does this make you feel about Ford?”, with possible answers like, “I feel that Ford is a major player in the technology world because they sponsor online video,” and “Ford cares about emerging technologies.”

    So they went all touchy-feely on me, and basically tried to pay the bills. I understand why they ask the questions they do… I used to work for an ad agency so I get it. But still, 99% of the questions had nothing to do with the quality of the service, usefulness of the UI, availability, etc. I think only one question was on whether they had an adequate number of shows available. And everything was a radio button, with not one textarea for me to state, “The commercials are too loud.”

    So all they will know is that I have been watching Alias at 2am, and that I could give a crap about Ford. What they need to know is that when watching Alias at 2am, I need to use headphones, but can’t. As a result, I haven’t watched the last episode or season finale, and might not get to it anytime soon. If they knew this, they could fix the problem and probably deduct that I haven’t seen any Ford commercials either.

    It’s sad when people like us who actually want to give feedback end up walking away feeling like we haven’t been heard. I don’t know about Yahoo, but I care about what Mike Davidson thinks about Yahoo’s services and so should they. At the least, it’s good that people like Dustin read your blog, and hopefully this “new wave of developers” can make a difference.

    Sigh. I don’t use Yahoo.

  6. Sean Sperte says:

    Yeah. And have you seen Yahoo’s captchas?! Ugh.

  7. PanMan says:

    I had a similar thing: I got a personalised email, to ask me to fill out this
    hudge questionaire (which, atmittedly, they said would take 15 minutes). The plus side is that they give money to some charity if I complete the whole questionaire. So I have this running in a firefox tab, doing the questions one page at a time, in between other browsing. When I’m at 85% (it did say that), Firefox crashes.
    When I click the personalised link in my Inbox again, it starts right back at the beginning! While I’m sure they sended me some user ID, and I’m guessing they are saving the results in between (otherwise they would be Really stupid). Then why not give me the chance to continue where I was? I’m not going to the first 85% again (taking some 10+ minutes), to finish the last questions.

  8. Collin says:

    The company I work for does a lot of online surveys. I have not ever gone though one until you got me wondering how effective our surveys might be compared to Google. From the one I just looked at it was 5 screens, no more then 5 questions, all multiple choice. Not to bad I guess.

    It seems like what happens with Yahoo is we have some marketing guy that puts the survey together, passes it off to the web guys to put online and at no point did anyone consider making it quick and painless to get the largest percentage of participants from end users. Kind of sad but I can imagine how the web guys wouldn’t care so much about the content of the survey since it’s probably presented as some big priority just to get it online.

    From the looks of that screen shot the survey was put together entirely by a marketing guy and some 3rd party survey service/program so all the web guys probably got was a URL.

    I guess you would be better off interrupting Dustin if you want your opinion to really be heard because the same careless person/group that created the survey will be recieving the results.

  9. Corey Spring says:

    Please, please, please dear God, let ‘Sweet Fennel’ become a catchphrase.

  10. MrCorey says:

    I’ve been using yahoo! products for years in one capacity or another. Since my ISP (Rogers in Canada) decided to get out of the content game and farm it out to Yahoo!, they’ve been more of a part of my life, as its a tad harder to avoid the “content” (shame there aren’t larger versions of quotation marks for greater emphasis).

    What I’m wondering, aside from the obvious Yahoo! trend of obfuscation for profit, is how you ever thought that they grew a sense of humor! :-D

  11. Zappo says:

    I had exactly the same type of survey from eBay recently. It ALSO promised to take just a few minutes and went on page after page.

    Soon I started answering every question with the worst rating. By the time I finished it I hated eBay which sort of defeated the point of the Survey.

    The third party that provides these is a site called http://www.tpolldirect.com.

    Someone should tell Yahoo and eBay that this kind of market intelligence is about as popular as sending SPAM to customers.

  12. Meetha says:

    i cant stand capthchas

  13. Erythisis says:

    The all or nothing approach makes sense by me. However, I was ready to use one of those “funny” fly swatters, with a shoe for the swat part, on the Yahoo people for having an annoying survey. The problem is really what they use to process the questions. Instead of making use of available technology which curves the survey to the user, it’s some basic form coding with a hint of something more. Ie. I can say I got fired two months ago and the next question will ask if I’ve gotten a pay raise in the last week. o.0
    I do HarrisPoll and NPDOR surveys one to three times a month and they’re great. They can be a tad longer than Yahoo, but they’re much more worth the time.

    I did get a kick out of the “Decipher Privacy Policy” too. At first I was awe-struck that such a thing existed. I’m sure you understand how disappointed I was to find out what the link really led to. ;)

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