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Smarter poll answers wanted

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by ChrisNewman, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member


    Yesterday I tried once again to participate in the weekly poll. All to often the question is something on which I have a strong opinion, which I would like to share, but I find the answers have been defined very tightly, and none of them match my view. This week the question is “Are you planning to buy any new photographic gear during 2014?”. I am planning to buy a full frame macro lens (having upgraded from a D90 to D800 a year ago), a tripod (having been frustrated by the inadequacy of my cheap lightweight one, and the awkwardness of carrying my Benbo Trecker), and a flashgun (having managed with Nikon’s built-in ones for the last 3½ years, their cashback offer seems a good opportunity to return to owning a unit dedicated to my camera). Greedy, I know! So I clicked the “A lens” button on the poll, and then returned to try to click the “A bag, tripod or other accessory” button, but the system wouldn’t give me a second vote (which is right in principle).

    Why is there no button for “More than one of the above”?

    AP, please try to make your poll answers less restrictive in future!

  2. spinno

    spinno Well-Known Member

    How about a simple yes or no.......in this case anyway
  3. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Many if not most of the polls read a bit like mini-surveys so it's possible the response options are designed to elicit information which might help select the future content of the magazine. That said there is too often a lack of a straightforward response to some of the more straightforward questions...:rolleyes:
  4. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Usually I would envoke the forums Ultimate Poll (http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?107089-Ultimate-Poll) however on this occasion, I can't say the polls since the new year have been very inspirational.

    'What are you going to buy this year' and 'what toy was bought for you this christmas' have left me cold as refrigerated custard. Continuing along that vein I expect one of the future polls to be 'Would any of the announcements at CES 2014 convince you to open your wallet?'

    I know there is a large degree of gear-headedness in photography but AP has always been a little more than that. The editors run up to the forum poll his week really caught the imagination and could have lead to any of 50 more interesting questions. Better answers, and better questions please! :)
  5. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I think that what we have to accept is that AP's weekly polls are very much at a "pop" level and, very often, use leading questions, restricted options, mutually exclusive options, etc., etc.

    Let's remember that they are probably designed by journalists rather than statisticians, so let's not get our knickers in a twist about them.

    They are designed to entertain rather than provide scientific analysis of serious questions.
  6. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I rarely answer the poll but often comment in the forum. Its a bit much to expect a journalist to create a competent multiple choice question. Even 'expert' examiners frequently screw them up.
  7. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    Apologies if my poll questions aren't up to the standard of my predecessor. I haven't had to come up with regular poll questions before, so they don't come that easily to me yet.
    I confess that I am also using the polls to try to learn a bit more about the readers tastes, interests and equipment buying habits in order to help me make better content choices in the future, which is why they may come across a little as market research.
    I'm very happy to accept suggestions for polls that you feel would be more interesting (along with answers that cover all bases). Post them here and I'll use the best ones.
  8. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Thanks for getting back to us on this Mr Atherton, it is reassuring to see that you are open to feedback. I can only imagine how tough coming up with a regular weekly question is when one has to bring together content for a wing of imagery magazines. I apologise for being a bit of a grump on the subject of the forum question, and I'm sure my viewpoint differs from the others on this thread so I hope my response does not effect the reception of their responses.

    To stick my 2p in to the discussion, from previous experience AP's questions have been much much more about photography and our reaction to it rather than just about kit and if we are going to buy some of it, and when they are about kit the question may be a little more veiled and a little more open, prompting discussion too. For instance past questions such as:

    Do you think the Leica M offers good value for money?
    is as good as saying to the forum readership "can you afford a Leica, is it worth our continuing to cover this brand as in depth?"

    If you are a former Pentax user, is the K-3 enough to tempt you back?
    is as "is the K3 enough to make you leave your current camera brand? Basically, will you buy one?"

    Do you want Android on your camera?
    is obviously a reference to the only Android camera at the time, the Samsung, and whether their bold move was something people actually wanted and if it was somthing we as readers would find interesting (which, the poll overwhelmingly suggests it was not)

    Would you buy a camera without handling it first?
    "Would you buy a camera online?"

    So the questions, though veiled, can still get valuable market research without sounding like it. Every one of these polls goes in AP and I am not sure what someone's reaction would be upon opening their weekly expecting cameras and pictures only to find 'did you get a tablet for Christmas'... That is, of course, unless there is a related forthcoming article on tablet computers on its way - cats amongst pigeons? ;)

    Otherwise there are some wonderful old forum questions which looking back seem to be testing the water for future themes - questions on Wedding Photography, questions on Art images and Street photography, and others which were very contemporary, asking our reactions to current photographic events like Kodaks woes - but without a direct question. For instance Illford Sweden could be addressed by asking "When was the last time you bought a pack of photo paper, if ever?", the results of which could really give an interesting overview of exactly how many of us on here are still using chemical and whether it is worth popping some ads for developer on the forum... All questions which can be discussed in the forum thread giving some quantitative feedback as well as black and white numbers from the poll.

    Of course, questions put in his manner will have some very tough requirements for their responses which may not all be caught by a simple tick-Poll, which has caused some comment in the past... ;)
  9. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    Thanks for your comments.

    I could also have mentioned the challenge of coming up with questions that haven't already been asked.

    Also, I admit I don't generally spend a lot of time thinking about the poll question, and it's often a last minute thing. Perhaps in future I'll solicit suggestions from the rest of the AP team.
  10. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    Fear not Mr A... Damian's polls used to come in for a fair bit of stick regarding the suitability of the answers so no change there. Like I said earlier they too often read like a bit of a fishing expedition - particularly the kit based ones...;)
  11. Nigel_Atherton

    Nigel_Atherton Group Editor

    The polls are, I'm told, supposed to be just a bit of fun, and not taken too seriously. Also, I've just been informed that the recent one on whether you received a tablet for Christmas received the second highest response of any poll we've done, so it obviously struck a chord with a good number of people.
    The reason I asked, incidentally, is that AP is also produced for iPad and Android tablets, and I was trying to get a sense of how much the potential digital audience may have grown since Christmas.
  12. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    Quite so, as the publication has been running for well over 125 years I would have to live two life times to notice if you'd started to loop them (if a poll had started with the magazine, of course).

    Very good, I cannot argue with the statistics (although I'm sure there is a quote about them which contradicts that ;) :p) and there is definitely no shame in AP being a bit more inclusive. I also noticed the Reader Poll advertised on the Facebook Page at the time, which was a wonderful way of getting more than just the forum regulars involved.

    As for it just being a bit of fun, there is no reason why we cannot have Serious Fun :) Keep on keeping on, as they say.
  13. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Firstly, my apologies for keeping you up till midnight responding to my thread!

    I haven’t noticed a change in the standard of the questions - I've been looking at AP’s front web page regularly for the last few years, and have taken to trying to vote in the polls when I think the subject matters to me, and I’ve often found it difficult to click a box without feeling that I’ve misrepresented my view. Thanks for the “None of the above” line in the poll showing today. I thought the other answers covered the field pretty comprehensively this time. (I’ve registered “no interest” - I now have a Nikon system, I sold the more desirable of my manual focus Pentax lenses, and I think I can get better results more easily with my 21st century autofocus Nikon lenses than with my 30-year-old imperfect manual focus Pentax ones.) But I see that “None of the above” is currently at 15%!

    Personally, I don’t have a list of subjects I would like to see polled. I simply respond to what is there.

    I’m delighted to see that you are clearly trying hard to satisfy your readers. Please keep up the good work (but don’t overwork yourself!)

    With thanks,
  14. PentaxManiac

    PentaxManiac Well-Known Member

    Some of the criticisms aimed at the poll questions in the past have been plain daft. Once we were asked how we usually viewed images: on the back of the camera, on a computer screen, in print etc. One guy complained that the options didn't include "on a Mac".
  15. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    This week's poll on "aspect ratios" is really weird.

    The decision about aspect ratio of the finished print is decided in processing as part of a range of decisions about composition.

    The only decision taken at the time of pressing the shutter is whether to use portrait or landscape orientation (and even that is not a consideration on my Rolleiflex).

    Happily, with high-res multi-megapixel digital cameras, you can take everything in "landscape" orientation and then crop to whatever format you want - even portrait - and still have tons of pixels for a high-quality A3+ print.
  16. Atavar

    Atavar Well-Known Member

    I have in the past had need to use my cameras in-body aspect ratio system. There was a spot competition at a museum to go out and grab pictures, and there was the perfect image which demanded a square frame. I got it in camera, loaded it to their computer... And didn't win. But the ability was there and let me get the image I wanted where a computer was not available.
  17. Richard Sibley

    Richard Sibley AP Deputy Editor

    I use different aspect ratios in-camera if I'm shooting for a particular purpose.

    For example I'm currently working on a triptych for a room in the house and have used the square crop mode in camera so I know the images will be perfect in square frames. I'll still shoot raw and crop square in Lightroom, but the crop ratio in-camera takes some of the guess work out of it.

    sometimes I will shoot a snapshot for social media and will again use a square ratio in-camera rather than in the app so that I don't end up actually slightly having to crop part of the subject.

    I will often shoot 3:2 on Micro Four Thirds cameras too... As I like my 6x4s, it's a closer fit for A4 pages too.

    Portraits - will shoot 4:3 or 5:4 if available in camera, to make sure everything is spot on in-camera

    And I believe some people do genuinely have preferable formats to shoot in, be they crops or decided in camera.
  18. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    But, Richard, I think you make the point yourself - you certainly don't have "a favourite aspect ratio". You use whatever format and dimensions suit your interpretation of the subject.
  19. Richard Sibley

    Richard Sibley AP Deputy Editor

    True, I should be clearer; 3:2 is my preferred aspect ratio and I have voted as such.
  20. Richard Sibley

    Richard Sibley AP Deputy Editor

    Also, just to back up what Nigel has said - these polls are are meant to engage and start conversations.

    Whilst the result of some of the polls is often interesting, and we may use them to 'test the water', we would never use the a poll in isolation to dictate any editorial policy... and certainly not to do any market research for a manuafcturer. The primary aim of the poll, from week to week, is to engage with you and to start a discussion or debate. This could be a discussion on here, or a written letter/email to the magazine for the letters page.

    So please don't take them too seriously, we have limited space for answers and if you feel the need to elaborate (or to not vote at all) them please leave a comment in the relevant forum thread.

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