Thursday, January 12, 2012

Survey: How Satisfied Are You with Your Survey Experience?

If you’re like a lot of business owners -- specifically, all of them -- you have at one point or another hired a survey company to plumb the fascinating depths of your customers’ or website visitors’ minds. Whether by robocall or in the form of one of those well-loved pop-up boxes, you’ve let another company’s machine ask your customers how much money they make, how they heard about your firm, and how they would rank your surly underpaid staff on a scale of “excellent” to “here’s your justification for not giving anyone a raise.”

But when the data came in and the check to the survey-taking company had cleared, something surprising happened: nothing. Contrary to the survey company’s sincere and absolute faith in surveys, no one was there surveying you about how you liked your survey.

Well, here’s your opportunity to make your voice heard! After all, survey-company-hiring companies are surveyable people, too! As they say, “Your opinion counts!” So please take this short survey:


1. I hired a survey service because:

a. Asking questions then forcing people to put their answers in my words instead of their own makes me feel big.

b. I just naturally assumed that my customers/website visitors enjoy being badgered.

c. Spending profits on B2B services is just so much more fun than paying a dividend.

d. It’s a prestige thing -- it shows that you have so many customers you can afford to alienate thousands of them.

e. The survey company salesgirl was wearing a low-cut top.

2. The one thing I most hoped the survey would reveal was:

a. How I can get more money out of my customers.

b. How I can get more money out of my customers without actually interacting with them.

c. How my customers feel about my employees’ treating them like shit.

d. How I could use meaningless statistics to help me sound smart in staff meetings.

3. When you learned that the pop-up box announcing the survey would contain the phrase “We value your opinion!” you:

a. Laughed

b. Laughed contemptuously

c. Actually bought it for a second, then laughed at your own gullibility

4. Finish this sentence: “When I received my survey results, I immediately ...”

a. Planned to look at them in the future.

b. FedExed them to the department that deals with such things even though I’m not sure what department that is.

c. Composed imaginary arguments in my head with negative respondents, putting their stupid asses in place with my decisive, scathing rejoinders.

5. I would describe myself as a

a. Chump

b. Voyeur

b. Control freak

(Note, to answer “savvy businessperson,” select “a” above.)

6. How long did it take you to realize you were sold a completely worthless service?

a. Six months

b. One week

c. Till about the time the ink was dry on the 10-year, 20-survey contract

d. Say what?

6. The last time you actually listened, in person, to a customer’s opinion, you:

a. Left your body

b. Wished you had swine flu so you could cough on them

c. Coughed on them anyway

d. Suggested that the customer was the one who screwed up their oil change, gave your hotel bed bugs, or incited your customer-service rep to violence

When you have completed this survey, please e-mail us your Social Security Number, Visa and MasterCard number, mother’s maiden name, and name of your first pet, then collect your own responses and do with them whatever you did with your own customers’ responses.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Copy Edit du Jour

"A display of the collection will be on site in the main pavilion"

Changed to ...

"The collection will be on display in the main pavilion."

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

How to Tell If You're a 'Real Writer'

These days, everyone’s a writer. Advances in technology have allowed anyone with a keyboard and a traumatic childhood to claim the title of “published writer.” Of course, this has frustrated “real writers” who believe they shouldn’t be clumped in with the high school sophomore who made $11.50 in Amazon Associates income by blogging “gott my period 2day LOL.” But what, exactly, separates the “real writers” from heartsick middle-schoolers, illiterate manifesto writers, and Dean Koontz?

Prominent scienticians have recently isolated some unique characteristics of true wordsmiths. Based on their findings, here’s how to tell – once and for all –if you’re a “real writer.”

1. Your mother keeps mailing you study guides for the Civil Service exam.

2. You’re no longer slave to the arbitrary social constructs that separate pajama pants from real pants.

3. Your friends all know you mean it when you say, “Don’t get me started on Dan Brown.”

4. You’re out of cat litter (nonfiction writers).

5. You’re out of vermouth (literary fiction writers).

6. You’re out of Nicorette (crime fiction writers).

7. You’re never out of Paxil (romance writers).

8. Your creativity informs every aspect of your life, especially your tax returns.

9. You qualify as “extremely liberal” on free speech, deadlines, and food expiration dates.

10. You qualify as “extremely conservative” on speech in the form of Amazon user reviews.

11. You use the phrase “lost sense of community” a lot, but you’re usually talking to your dog.

12. Your pristine copy of The Collected Works of Shakespeare is prominently displayed on your bookshelf.

13. Your decaying, bathtub-splashed Stieg Larsson paperbacks are stashed under your futon.

14. You haven’t read a book since 1998 (screenwriters).

15. You have attempted to calculate J.K. Rowling’s royalty income.

16. Your math skills rendered this task impossible.

17. You’re trying to copyright your recipe for ranch dressing on stale saltines.

18. You have worked the word “factotum” into a conversation (literary writers).

19. You have worked the word “gams” into a conversation (noir writers).

20. You have worked the words “my place” into a conversation (romance writers).

21. You have worked the word “loan” into a conversation (all writers).

22. You laughed when a friend gave you scratch tickets for Christmas, then hastily disappeared into the bathroom with a quarter (a borrowed quarter).

23. You love the Kindle, you fear the Kindle.

24. You consider a shower to be foreplay.

25. You consider a wet washcloth to be a shower.

26. When you say “my doctor,” you mean Dr. Oz.

27. You feel closer to your protagonist than even to the girl across the street with the really sheer drapes.

28. You spend six hours a day tweeting about how you should spend more time blogging.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Copy Edit du Jour

What's more -- aside from a specialized curriculum -- private schools are notoriously known for their smaller classrooms.

Changed to:

Private schools are known for their smaller class sizes.

(Other bad choices aside, I can't BELIEVE the writer used "notoriously known" -- and for something positive, no less. That's the kind of thing I might make up as a ridiculous example of a bad adverb/flabby writing.)

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Copy Edit du Jour

"Our office handles a full range of podiatric needs including sports medicine and deformities of the foot such as Bunions, Hammertoes and Neuromas."

Changed to:

"... bunions, hammertoes and neuromas."

Classic example of overuse of capitals. Though I almost like the idea of Hammertoes as a proper name - a former ballet dancer turned hard-boiled detective? (Couldn't be any worse that the current prime-time lineup.)

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 Signs the Online Article You're Reading Is Completely Devoid of Substance

As you know, substantiveness is all about substance. And that’s exactly what we’re seeking every time we click an enticing headline from AOL News or Yahoo! Health or CNN Money – meatiness, meat, carne.

But too often, the popular online articles that lure us in with headlines promising interesting facts contain only facts that are kind of interesting or interesting things that are not really facts or factual things that aren’t terribly interesting or things we already knew but didn’t know we knew because they were presented to us as things we didn’t know. The result? We’re left disappointed by the articles’ utter insubstantiveness and shocking lack of substance.

I, for one, like many, for example, possibly you, have wasted many a half-hour chunk of time reading about how to pare down my leg-shaving expenses, interpret my cat’s nonverbal cues, and take 10 years off my earlobes. Luckily, the time wasted usually belongs to an employer and not to us. Nonetheless, it's time you could have spent learning how to gauge the power of your own handshake or channel Warren Buffet or paint on the perfect eyeliner “cat eyes.” So here are 10 surefire signs that the article you’re reading is a pile of hooey not worth the precious time you’ve stolen from your employer.

1. The article begins with “as you know.”
2. The article that begins with “as you know” follows up by stating something you know.
3. The bulk of the information is conveyed through images of beautiful married twentysomethings under the covers or Photoshopped blueberries.
4. The article’s best money-saving tip is “don’t spend money.”
5. The article’s best weight-loss tip is “don’t eat.”
6. A little math reveals that the article is telling you to eat 48 shiitake mushrooms and eight pounds of wild salmon a day and wash it all down with four gallons of green tea.
7. The sole source quoted in the article is credentialed as “resident” or “laid-off employment counselor” or “Fox News analyst.”
8. The article is written in the first person by someone you’ve never heard of but is proud she no longer spends $480 a month on NetFlix.
9. The article contains a numbered list.
10. The list of tips is a nice round number like 10, even though the writer clearly ran out of material at 9.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wonderings and Googlings: Wherein I wonder about words, then I Google them

I'm no spring chicken = 647,000 hits
I'm a spring chicken = 18,000 hits

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