Reader survey questions?

By Razib Khan | July 14, 2011 2:25 pm

I usually do a reader survey once a year or so. I figure I should do one soon. Usually I ask standard demographic questions, etc. Since I’ve been at Discover for over a year I assume there’s been some change since I first arrived. I’ll open up the comment thread on this post for questions to ask. I’m going to “push” my survey on Facebook and Google+ and twitter too, so hopefully I can get the N in the ~500 range as a target (I’ve gotten that high before).

  • Alex K Chen (InquilineKea)

    Hmm – personality type questions? Like Myers Brigg or Big 5? Personally I like asking these to everyone, since they do reveal some interesting things about people, even if not entirely accurate.

    Other possible questions: “Have you heard of X?”, where X is a blogger that you share a large audience with. E.g. Bryan Caplan, Robin Hanson, LessWrong, Elizier Yudowsky, Steve Sailer, Stephen Hsu, etc… Maybe also PZ Myers, Cosmic Variance, and other blogs on the three major science blogging networks.

    Maybe “What do you think of X?” questions related to certain scientists like E.O. Wilson, Dawkins, James D. Watson, etc.

    Also – definitely a question along the lines of “Do you use Google+/Twitter?” (and what is your “favorite” one of the services). And maybe LessWrong/Reddit/Quora/etc too. I would definitely put in Reddit since a large portion of intelligent visitors visit that site.

    Maybe questions about people’s views on particular issues like academic freedom/open science, beliefs behind IQ differences between different groups, nature/nurture (and influence of parenting on child development), signalling theory of education, etc..

    I’m also curious to see what people’s attitudes on education are, especially since we may witness a complete collapse of traditional education in the next 20 years. Also, other predictions of the future, like the one survey posted on LessWrong a while ago.

    Also college major. I’m very curious about the % of people here who are physics majors (physics is really over-represented on the Internet, and I’m curious as to see if it carries over)

    Something on current events would also be interesting. (LessWrong’s survey) and (PhilPaper’s survey) should also be very interesting.

    The Triple Nine website has some extremely interesting surveys about political beliefs:

    And maybe Pew Research:

    Then this is a stretch, but maybe some surveys from and too. At this point though, there would be a lot of reader attrition.

  • zach k

    I’d be interested to know education status of your readers. One of the things i like about GNXP is the DIY attitude… i wonder if that correlates with lack of education (in the traditional sense).

  • EcoPhysioMichelle

    Did you ask about number of sexual partners last year, or was that someone else?

  • Alex K Chen (InquilineKea)

    Ah yes – I agree with Zach K – I’m definitely interested in how the DIY attitude correlates with attitudes towards education (e.g. I have extremely libertarian attitudes on education and totally got excited with Peter Thiel’s recent announcement).

    Maybe science funding as well (like attitudes on the JWST). Science is one of the major areas [along with environment] where I can’t really be libertarian on (I wonder if other people on these sites feel that way)


    Hm I just asked this question on Quora ( ). Hopefully someone else might post something interesting (though Quora hasn’t taken off with the rationality community, unfortunately). Actually, LessWrong would be a good source.

  • US

    I’d also really like to know more about stuff along the lines of what zack k is getting at – not just formal education levels (I believe you usually ask about that one), but rather the DIY attitude prevalence. I’d love to know how much (/non-work?) time an average reader spends each week (or you could frame it: “last week” so that it’s easier for the respondent to estimate, presumably implicitly increasing the expected response rate) at places like khanacademy, wikipedia and google scholar (or perhaps at the GSS or other data sources). How nerdy are the nerds reading along and what do they do online besides reading blogs?

  • Ian

    Can’t remember what you’ve asked in the past, but questions about whether you’ve had a personal genome analysis would be interesting, and if so why.

    Ask a few questions to see whether your regular readers understand heritability and ADMIXTURE results? As often as these kinds of things come up, it might be worth knowing if you’re pitching it at the right level for most of your readers.

    Asking some political questions that don’t scale well with the usual liberal-conservative axis.

  • Charles Iliya Krempeaux

    – have you done any math more complex than calculus?

    – what’s you AQ score, as per this test?:

    – are fluent and competent in any programming languages? (Things like HTML & CSS don’t count.)

    – Have you done a DNA test?

    – If “yes” to above question, have you submitted your DNA to any of the DIY Genomics projects out there?

    – What is your hat/head size? (Curious about Macrocephaly with that question.)

    – How many digits of Pi do you have memorized?

    – Do you have any obsessive compulsive characteristics?

    – Do you have now or have you ever had a Eidetic memory?

    – How would you describe your political/moral world view?

  • Jim Miller

    Have you signed up for cryonics?

    What percentage of the variance in human intelligence do you estimate is caused by genetics?

  • Tom Bri

    Hat size, Charles? Got a really small head, myself.

    I’d be interested in some personal economics questions, debt load, attitude towards debt, home ownership and so on. I think personal debt (not business) is for stupid people, but obviously this isn’t true, as plenty of really smart people max out. I’d like to know what the local crowd here thinks.

    I’d also like some questions on risk-taking, whether physical, emotional, financial. Is this group risk-averse or not, and what that coorelates to.

  • I_Affe

    Diet. There seems to be a lot of adherents of the paleo-diet here. You could also ask about exercise habits; a lot of nerds are hardcore into lifting weights.

  • pconroy

    2D:4D ratio

    IQ ranges

    Where born/Where live currently – not just US, but regional, like NE etc

  • Jason

    You have a quite homogenous readership…..


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar