A new, hybrid approach to surveys Princeton researchers have developed combines the data-gathering advantages of interviews with the lower cost and analytical simplicity of traditional surveys to yield insights that would be difficult to obtain with other methods.
These “wiki surveys” — inspired in part by the constant, user-fueled evolution of websites like Wikipedia — begin with questions and a set of potential answers as in a traditional survey. The wiki surveys then continue to change as participants offer new potential answers, which are shown to future participants.
Participants saw the question and were presented with two possible answers. They could choose whichever they preferred (or “I can’t decide”) and then would see another pair, continuing for as long as they liked.
Instead of choosing either supplied answer, though, participants could offer their own. After being screened by survey organizers for relevance, that answer would be added to the stock of possible responses and be shown to future participants. Almost 1,500 people took the survey over four months, and they submitted 244 alternative responses that other participants could choose.
In the end, eight of the top ten answers were contributed by participants.