Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Not this again

We had such a thorough outbreak of the crazy last year when real polls were in play that -- gee, it almost seemed like bogus polls (at least, among the grownup media) had gone away. Alas, not so:

About 36% of the first 5,800-plus fans who answered a poll said, "Absolutely. I'll be at the Joe for Game 1." Another 38% said, "No, this lockout was the last straw," and 16% said they'd just watch college and minor hockey. Oh, and 10% said they didn't care for hockey in the first place, but thanks for participating.

Just a couple of points:

1) Unlike, say, trying to approximate the proportion of likely voters who will or won't pull the switch in one direction or another, guessing "not all" is pretty much a guaranteed winner. And that would suggest it's not a very interesting headline.
2) It's thus the sort of guess you can make without a poll -- which is a good thing, since you don't have one here.
3) From which you may conclude that this one should have been left on the midden for the foxes.

We could have an amusing chat about question design, in that there's somewhat more to the NFL-watching spectrum than "I'll be there for whatever opening night turns out to be" and "last straw" (bonus points if you can name the problem raised by the third option above). That'd be fun if we were actually talking about public opinion. But we're not. We're talking about people who selected themselves into your sample, and no matter how many of them there are, that means you can't talk about what "hockey fans" think. Especially if you simply stop counting when it's time to go home; that's like trying to do an exit survey and leaving at noon because you're hungry.

Does that make Your Editor a complete and hopeless old groaner? As such things go, I'm actually pretty cheery. After all, I'm not the one who might have to spend an election year defending the brand against claims that " poll" is short for "meaningless crap that we thought was amusing at the time."

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Anonymous Placa Solar said...

Good reading! Condratulations!

5:51 AM, January 09, 2013  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Yah, when the NHL collapses minor league hockey will keep right on...

7:36 PM, January 10, 2013  
Anonymous Ampoules Led said...

Interesting article

3:14 AM, January 18, 2013  

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