CHI: many, many problems

I plan to post several comments on this year’s CHI. And here’s the first: their post-conference survey doesn’t work. It refuses to accept my responses, claiming that I haven’t answered all the questions, when I have.

Two serious problems with this. The first, obviously, is that the process aimed at collecting feedback is broken. Most respondents, rejected once, will not return to the site to try again, so the response rate will plummet. This is particularly ironic since CHI is an organization for which user feedback is supposedly an important element of design.

The second is that surveys that refuse to allow respondents to skip questions, not only are rude in being so authoritarian, but can be misleading. When a lot of people skip a question (but answer the next, so don’t opt out completely), that’s a sign of a problem with the question, suggesting that the responses that are collected are not likely to be credible. Refusing to allow users to skip a question means that (1) people will give less-than-accurate responses, just to get through this barrier, or (2) they’ll opt out, annoyed at the survey, thereby reducing the response rate.

Surely CHI could figure this out.

Furthermore, the same thing happened last year. I sent them a note, they apologized and fixed it; but how many responses did they lose in the meantime? And –-the same problem two years in a row? From an organization that places a priority on user-centered design?

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