Add Demographic Questions to a Survey

  • 20 March 2021
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When creating a survey, you’ll see the option to add pre-created demographic questions. Polco’s suggested demographic questions stay with respondents, so they don’t have to fill them out again and again. These questions feed into Polco’s representivity graphsautomatic weighting functionality, and on-platform crosstabs, providing administrators even more insight into their results and respondents. 

 

Why ask demographic questions?

Demographic information can help you better understand:

  • who you’re reaching with your engagement efforts
  • how effective your outreach strategies are
  • how representative your results are of the larger community
  • how respondents’ experiences or perceptions may differ based on demographic characteristics

Knowing who is taking your surveys (and who you haven’t heard from!) leads to more inclusive decisions for the entire community. If needed, reassuring respondents about the security and confidentiality of their responses can help them feel more comfortable sharing this information. Hearing that this information will help you better serve them (and everyone else in the community) can also encourage participants to respond to these questions.


How to add a demographic question

  1. To add demographic questions to a survey, navigate to the “Questions” tab.
  2. Click on your desired question(s) within the pre-populated list.
  3. The question should appear within your survey draft.

Demographic questions about age, gender, race, and ethnicity are the most common (and will filter in to the Representivity graphs). For surveys with automatic weighting functionality enabled, we suggest adding the questions about age, gender, race, ethnicity, rent/own, and housing type, as these are all factored into the weighting calculations.

Please note that these demographic questions cannot be edited during the survey development process, nor can unique-but-similarly-worded questions be created by individual admins. Polco’s suggested demographic questions must be used without changes for full compatibility with our data visualizations and other functionalities. 

 

How demographic data is retained across surveys

When a respondent answers a pre-created demographic question on a survey and becomes a subscriber, their answers will “follow” their subscriber profile so they don’t have to answer them again in the future. We don’t hide the demographic questions from the respondent, but the next time it appears on a survey, their answers will be pre-populated and they can skip over those questions more quickly.

Here are a few specific examples of how this works:

  • Say in Survey #1, you include the demographic question asking respondents’ age. When Survey #2 is posted a few months later (which again includes the age question), a respondent who has had a birthday in the meantime (and are now in the next age bracket) will have the opportunity to change their answer, and that new age response will then be tied to the respondents’ profile.

  • If you include the age demographic question in Survey #1 but not in Survey #2, your results for Survey #2 will show some user-reported age data from the respondents who answered that question in the previous survey effort. However, users who did not participate in Survey #1 will not have seen/responded to that question and thus won’t be included in those Survey #2 age breakdowns. 

For this reason, we recommend including demographic questions often on your survey efforts! Doing so will give regular respondents frequent opportunities to update their answers if needed, and will also reach new respondents who haven’t participated previously.


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