Quote of the Day

We’ve just received a lovely quote from a moderator that has just completed an online study using our IdeaStream platform. Here words were…

“I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the platform is so easy it saves a heck of a lot of time, encourages the participants to work much harder, and makes the moderator’s job much easier”

Not sure what we can add to that, other than if you haven’t experienced our online research platforms for yourself, your missing out!

Get in touch with stephen@dubishere.com to find out more.

The Disinhibition Effect

It’s a given that within online qualitative research (blogs, video diaries, forums, chat, etc), researchers get the opportunity to hear consumers talk about their experiences and their feelings towards products brands and services, but is the dialogue ‘real’ enough?

John Suler’s ‘The Psychology of Cyberspace’ says:

It’s well known that people say and do things in cyberspace that they wouldn’t ordinarily say or do in the face-to-face world. They loosen up, feel more uninhibited, express themselves more openly. Researchers call this the “disinhibition effect.

Perhaps the pinnacle of any online research community or ad-hoc online qual study, however, is when, as a researcher, you get to sit back and hear consumers talk among themselves about brands, products and their experiences.

Why is this so powerful? Simply, it provides some of the most candid and unadulterated insight one will ever experience since, as far as the participant is concerned, neither the researcher nor the client (brand) is in the same room and, as John Suller says:

According to traditional Internet philosophy, everyone is an equal: Peers share ideas and resources. In fact, the net itself is engineered with no centralized control. As it grows, with a seemingly endless potential for creating new environments, many people see themselves as independent-minded explorers. This atmosphere and philosophy contribute to the minimizing of authority.”

These phenomenon and the platforms set a scenario where consumers can literally spew the good, the bad and the ugly without fear of reprisal, backlash or judgment and without the peer pressure associated with real physical presence. For the researcher and the client, it provides an opportunity to hear first-hand the language and experience the passion and gusto consumers use to share their points of view. It delivers truths that are hard to come by elsewhere, in such fashion.

If you’re asking yourself what online research communities can do for you, this should be somewhere near the top of the list.

Why Localisation Matters to Online Research

flags-globeAt Dub, we provide local moderators who’s role it is to look after the health of your online research community. Part of their role is also to localise the study design for their particular market.

Localising the study design matters greatly, for the reasons that follow;

To ensure that respondents are familiar with the terms and labels used throughout the discussion guides. Often, making a direct translation from a master document (in English) can lead to the terms having little or no meaning for participants. Fro example, we recently conducted a project about data privacy, but it was deemed that this term meant little when translated for the Asian market, so the resulting term that was adopted was Protection of Personal Information.

To attain the appropriate level of formality. In some markets around the world, formality will reduce the level of creativity in response, while other markets are more comfortable with a relaxed, casual style (such as Asian and South American markets)

Tone of Voice
When conversing with certain markets, politeness is key to ensuring participation. This is different to formality, as you can be be casual and formal, and polite at the same time.

Equally, localisation can greatly help the flow of discussion and richness of response when handled correctly. Here are some handy hints and tips to follow;

  1. Ensure that questions are not ambiguous or more than two questions are combined into one, and adjust the wording of questions to ensure answers are relevant and on-topic. This helps avoid unclear or irrelevant responses.
  2. Ensure sequence of questions makes it easy for respondents to follow the progressing discussion and learn more about the topic and what is expected of them in the process. This reduces the likelihood of ‘don’t know’ answers.
  3. Adjust the style of questions to local communication preferences. For example, Japanese respondents value harmony and dislike voicing a different opinion, and are less used to analytical thinking and open debate.

An Online Research Moderator’s best friend

notesWe’re extremely proud of all of the online research technology that we’ve developed over the years. It facilitates a more creative online research experience for both respondent and researcher. One of the most effective and much heralded tools that we’ve integrated, however, is also the simplest and easiest to use (hence our pride in it!). It’s called Notes. The simplest way to describe it is like Delicious for researchers.

Notes, allows researchers and admins to annotate, share and discover respondent-generated content. As an online research project progresses, researchers and admins can add notes to the most valuable content they see, so they can return to and/or share their thoughts and ideas with others, with ease.

Researchers and admins also create meta-databases with Notes. These generate tag clouds that help uncover trending topics. Researchers can also add notes-to-self, helping to remind them about the best content they have seen.

Our clients tell us that they love Notes, not just because of its ease-of-use, but because it saves them time at the end of projects when they need to review the content for analysis. Online research (including communities, MROCs) can produce a vast amount of data, so it’s important to create mechanisms that allow researchers to organise, search and filter content. Notes fulfils this and more by removing the need for your project’s Senior Analyst having to sequentially review all the data shared.

If you’d like to know more about how Notes can improve your online research, contact Stephen Cribbett, stephen@dubishere.com

When blog comments go wrong

Comments (of sorts!)Engadget, one of the leading gadget blogs on the internet, recently decided to turn off commenting on articles. Their claim is that in in recent days commenting has got ‘out of hand’, with a few people creating an environment that they feel is ‘ugly, pointless and threatening’.

It’s a bold move, and one I suspect they did not take lightly. By their own admission, and inline with the oft cited 1% rule, only a small percentage of their readership comment. However, the feature is considered one of the basic tenants of social media – allowing motivated readers to become part of the debate. Indeed, it’s features like commenting, along with the low barriers to entry, ability to syndicate across multiple platforms/channels, etc. that have helped the format grow to the size, variety and popularity it has today.

Benefits aside monitoring comments, filtering out the spam and ensuring abuse is kept at bay can be a difficult process. Blog authors have options, which include:

  • Moderation – before a comment is displayed online, it must be ‘cleared’ by a site administer, ensuring no detrimental posts get through. However, this can take away the immediate gratification users have come to expect and cause commentors to feel they’re being censored. Such a process also becomes unfeasible for a site that is as popular (and has such a high number of generated comments) as Engadget.
  • Spam filters – Great for some removing the ‘v1Agra’ type of spam message we have all come to despise, but limited when it comes to deciding if a well composed comment is inappropriate
  • Community-managed voting – only displays comments that have been given a positive vote by readers. Very ‘hands-off’ for site owners, but requires an extra level of interaction from users
  • Register to vote - Great for blogs with a small following – e.g. personal holiday blogs, but becomes difficult to track with large and manage with large user base. Equally, as user names and passwords are required each time, barriers to entry for commenting (especially for casual commentors) become very high
  • Threading - this allows people to comment on comments. It doesn’t stop spam comments, but it does conversations to diverge. Sites like Slashdot take this approach to the extreme, allowing unlimited ‘threading’. The side effect is that this can quickly become confusing to the casual observer. Limited threading is a useful

Our advise at Dub is to try and take maximum advantage of the medium and be as open to viewer comments as possible. As you can see, there are a myriad approaches to helping mange comments. Unfortunately, for some publishers all the options in the world can’t stop the trolls and spammers of this world.

Read Engadget’s full statement here