Re: Reliability of user provided personal data
GALIT COHEN WROTE:
>There are sites ask for one's personal detalis (demographics
>and/or pcychographics) in order to "login" or register for
>free information, downloads etc. * * * But how reliable is
>the data that is provided in such instances considered? Has
>any studies been conducted in order to shed some light on
>this important issue? Does anybody know of a good reference?
I know that some of these issues are addressed in the
Georgia Tech surveys (see
http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/user_surveys/), but I am not
sure how reliable those online surveys are.
Let me share my own perceptions, based in part on the
comments I hear from others (including some clients):
(1) Users will be more honest if they trust you, and if they
feel comfortable with your use of the data. If you have a
never be shared, honesty will be more likely.
(2) Users will be more honest answering questions that are
not perceived as being either inappropriate or invasive.
For example, if you ask for income -- or frequency of
sexual intercourse -- you should expect a lot of dishonest
(3) Your site and its "offer" may influence users to be more
or less honest. For example, a site that offers free prizes
only to persons over age 18, should expect many under-18
users to lie about their age. Indeed, some sites seem to
encourage registrants to overstate their age, income, and
investment activities in order to facilitate advertising
support that will sustain the site. Conversely, if a site is
trusted and demonstrates a commitment to privacy, and
explains a good reason for needing valid data (for example,
an academic study, in which the identities, affiliations,
and objectives of the investigators are clearly stated),
more users will probably be more honest.
(4) The length and detail of a survey will also influence
its accuracy. If I am presented with three easy questions
to register -- age, year of birth, and zip code -- then I
will likely make an effort to be honest. If I am asked 17
questions, some of which are intrusive (income, marital
status, home ownership), then I will either abandon the site
or I will click on the first (or a random) answer for each
question in order to get past the annoying registration
form and get access to the web site I want to see.
(5) There will always be some intentionally false answers.
One online marketer told me that he always registers at web
sites as a 99-year-old woman, just to screw with the
-- Mark J. Welch, Editor & Publisher
-- Adbility's Web Publishers' Advertising Guide
-- (925) 462-8483 voice - Pleasanton, California
Received on Wed Oct 13 1999 - 13:53:49 CDT
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