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As we wrap up the 2016 survey, I'd like to start by thanking everybody who took
the time to fill it out. This year we had 3083 respondents, more than twice the
number we had last year. (Source: http://lesswrong.com/lw/lhg/2014_survey_results/)
This seems consistent with the hypothesis that the LW community hasn't declined
in population so much as migrated into different communities. Being the *diaspora*
survey I had expectations for more responses than usual, but twice as many was
far beyond them.
Before we move on to the survey results, I feel obligated to put a few affairs
in order in regards to what should be done next time. The copyright situation
for the survey was ambiguous this year, and to prevent that from happening again
I'm pleased to announce that this years survey questions will be released jointly
by me and Scott Alexander as Creative Commons licensed content. We haven't
finalized the details of this yet so expect it sometime this month.
I would also be remiss not to mention the large amount of feedback we received
on the survey. Some of which led to actionable recommendations I'm going to
preserve here for whoever does it next:
- Put free response form at the very end to suggest improvements/complain.
- Fix metaethics question in general, lots of options people felt were missing.
- Clean up definitions of political affilations in the short politics section.
In particular, 'Communist' has an overly aggressive/negative definition.
- Possibly completely overhaul short politics section.
- Everywhere that a non-answer is taken as an answer should be changed so that
non answer means what it ought to, no answer or opinion. "Absence of a signal
should never be used as a signal." - Julian Bigelow, 1947
- Give a definition for the singularity on the question asking when you think it
- Ask if people are *currently* suffering from depression. Possibly add more
probing questions on depression in general since the rates are so extraordinarily
- Include a link to what cisgender means on the gender question.
- Specify if the income question is before or after taxes.
- Add charity questions about time donated.
- Add "ineligible to vote" option to the voting question.
- Adding some way for those who are pregnant to indicate it on the number of
children question would be nice. It might be onerous however so don't feel
obligated. (Remember that it's more important to have a smooth survey than it
is to catch every edge case.)
And read this thread: http://lesswrong.com/lw/nfk/lesswrong_2016_survey/,
it's full of suggestions, corrections and criticism.
Without further ado,
Our report system is currently on the fritz and isn't calculating numeric questions. If I'd known this earlier I'd have prepared the results for said questions ahead of time. Instead they'll be coming out later today or tomorrow. (EDIT: These results are now in the text format survey results.)
Philosophy and Community Issues At LessWrong's Peak (Write Ins)
Philosophy and Community Issues Now (Write Ins)
CC-Licensed Machine Readable Survey and Public Data
(Note for people looking to work with the dataset: My survey analysis code repository includes a sqlite converter, examples, and more coming soon. It's a great way to get up and running with the dataset really quickly.)
In depth analysis:
Mental Health Stats By Diaspora Community (Including self dxers)
How Diaspora Communities Compare On Mental Health Stats (I suspect these charts are subtly broken somehow, will investigate later)
Improved Mental Health Charts By Obormot (Using public survey data)
Improved Mental Health Charts By Anonymous (Using full survey data)
Political Opinions By Political Affiliation Charts (By anonymous)
More coming soon!
1. FortForecast on the communities section, Bayesed And Confused on the blogs section, and Synthesis on the stories section were all 'troll' answers designed to catch people who just put down everything. Somebody noted that the three 'fortforecast' users had the entire DSM split up between them, that's why.
2. Lots of people asked me for a list of all those cool blogs and stories and communities on the survey, they're included in the survey questions PDF above.
1. Add more in depth analysis, fix the ones that decided to suddenly break at the last minute or I suspect were always broken.
2. Add a compatibility mode so that the current question codes are converted to older ones for 3rd party analysis that rely on them.
If anybody would like to help with these, write to email@example.com
It’s time for a new survey!
I posted a few weeks back asking for suggestions for questions to include on the survey. As much as we’d like to include more of them, we all know what happens when we have too many questions. The following graph is from the last survey.
(Source: JD’s analysis of 2014 survey data)
Two factors seem to predict if a question will get an answer:
Whether people want to answer it. (Obviously)
People answer fewer questions as we approach the end. They also skip tricky questions. The least answered question on the last survey was - “what is your favourite lw post, provide a link”. Which I assume was mostly skipped for the amount of effort required either in generating a favourite or in finding a link to it. The second most skipped questions were the digit-ratio questions which require more work, (get out a ruler and measure) compared to the others. This is unsurprising.
This year’s survey is almost the same size as the last one (though just a wee bit smaller). Preliminary estimates suggest you should put aside 25 minutes to take the survey, however you can pause at any time and come back to the survey when you have more time. If you’re interested in helping process the survey data please speak up either in a comment or a PM.
We’re focusing this year particularly on getting a glimpse of the size and shape of the LessWrong diaspora. With that in mind; if possible - please make sure that your friends (who might be less connected but still hang around in associated circles) get a chance to see that the survey exists; and if you’re up to it - encourage them to fill out a copy of the survey.
The survey is hosted and managed by the team at FortForecast, you’ll be hearing more from them soon. The survey can be accessed through http://lesswrong.com/2016survey.
Survey responses are anonymous in that you’re not asked for your name. At the end we plan to do an opt-in public dump of the data. Before publication the row order will be scrambled, datestamps, IP addresses and any other non-survey question information will be stripped, and certain questions which are marked private such as the (optional) sign up for our mailing list will not be included. It helps the most if you say yes but we can understand if you don’t.
Thanks to Namespace (JD) and the FortForecast team, the Slack, the #lesswrong IRC on freenode, and everyone else who offered help in putting the survey together, special thanks to Scott Alexander whose 2014 survey was the foundation for this one.
When answering the survey, I ask you be helpful with the format of your answers if you want them to be useful. For example if a question asks for an number, please reply with “4” not “four”. Going by the last survey we may very well get thousands of responses and cleaning them all by hand will cost a fortune on mechanical turk. (And that’s for the ones we can put on mechanical turk!) Thanks for your consideration.
The survey will be open until the 1st of may 2016
Addendum from JD at FortForecast: During user testing we’ve encountered reports of an error some users get when they try to take the survey which erroneously reports that our database is down. We think we’ve finally stamped it out but this particular bug has proven resilient. If you get this error and still want to take the survey here are the steps to mitigate it:
Refresh the survey, it will still be broken. You should see a screen with question titles but no questions.
Press the “Exit and clear survey” button, this will reset your survey responses and allow you to try again fresh.
Rinse and repeat until you manage to successfully answer the first two questions and move on. It usually doesn’t take more than one or two tries. We haven’t received reports of the bug occurring past this stage.
If you encounter this please mail firstname.lastname@example.org with details. Screenshots would be appreciated but if you don’t have the time just copy and paste the error message you get into the email.
Meta - this took 2 hours to write and was reviewed by the slack.
My Table of contents can be found here.