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Survey Results Anonymous to Administrators Too

Forums: Questions and Answers About Building Your Site
Created on: 05/16/10 03:08 PM Views: 2263 Replies: 24
Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 3:08 PM

I'm thinking of putting up a survey which might result in some answers that even I, as an administrator, might rather not be able to link to particular respondents. I want to know who participated, but not know each person's answers? Most of the questions are pretty tame, but others, such as "Have you ever spent a night in jail?" or "Have you ever smoked pot?" aren't so. (BTW, I'm Class of '62, so that might not be a controversial qauestion for other classes.) Can I make the responses (not the results) totally anonymous?


Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 3:36 PM - Response #1

No. Not for Admins you can't. Admins have the ability to see who answered what and how, and that currently cannot be deactivated. If you want to do something like this totally anonymously you should use your Poll feature instead, which does not track specific respondents, but rather only shows group results. With the Poll feature not even the Admin can see who answered what or how they answered.

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 3:55 PM - Response #2

Ah ha! I didn't know that. Thanks!

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 4:13 PM - Response #3

But can you have more than one question in a poll? And if so, how?

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 5:29 PM - Response #4


1) Click Edit Site Pages
2) Click the Edit button next to Home Page
3) Click Manage Poll
4) Add your questions

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 5:37 PM - Response #5

I did that, but there is only space for 1 question with 6 possible answers. It does not allow you to add other questions, or am I missing something?

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 6:09 PM - Response #6

Oops, you said question not answer. Smile No, the poll was intended as more or less an entertainment feature. Serious polls and surveys where data collection is involved should be done with the Survey Maker. I guess that puts you back to needing anonymous results for the Administrator in the Survey Maker. One thing I'll mention is that you don't have to actually look at results just because you can. There's a link to show the respondents but if you're not wanting to see specific personal answers, why not simply not click on it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 6:17 PM - Response #7

I don't that I could trust myself not to look. Better to not be tempted. But thank you for your responses. I'll rethink the whole process and maybe just stick to very uncontroversial questions on a survey. By the way, is there someplace I can look to see how survey results are posted, especially if they are just yes-no questions? I just would like to see the displayed results of a sample survey before I create one.

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 8:40 PM - Response #8

Now that I'm at work and back online...time for me to poke my head in and add a
So will it ever be possible to find out who answers polls? I kind of realized that you can't see who answered when I went back. *batting my eyes* Laughing

Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 8:48 PM - Response #9

We might enhance the Poll feature, but we made the Survey Maker for data collection.

If you want to try some sample surveys and see how the results look etc:

Log into our test site here:

1) Site address:
2) Login:
3) Password: classcreator

Make a survey. Enter a couple Classmate names and join as them. Complete the survey. Log back in as the Root Admin of the test site and take a look. You can play around with this test site all you want.

Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 1:51 PM - Response #10

In a survey, some other classmates wanted a survey about a class gift. So I created a survey and can see the results since I am the web administrator. Can I give those three people access to that one survey only so they can see the results? If yes, how please. If no, is there a way for me to forward them the results - probably cut and paste but there might be another way - is there?

Thanks, ED

Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 2:14 PM - Response #11

Ed - You can do this in 2 ways.

1 - You could either set the Survey Results Visibility to "All Classmates"


2 - You could make these 3 people you speak of co-Admins by going to Manage Classmates > Enter/Edit Classmates > Details for the classmates who you wish to have access to the survey and then check the box that says Grand Admin Access. Then you will need to check the box for Survey Maker to give them access specifically to the Survey Maker and its results.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 4:56 AM - Response #12

Can you tell me why administrators, and only administrators, have access to everyone’s survey answers? I can’t think of any reason administrators should have this information and it should be hidden from everybody else.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 8:23 AM - Response #13

There is a column in your Survey Maker page called "Survey Results Visibility". You have two choices:
X    Admins Only
O    All Classmates

You have the first one "Admins Only" selected.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 9:53 AM - Response #14

Lane Yoder wrote:

Can you tell me why administrators, and only administrators, have access to everyone’s survey answers? I can’t think of any reason administrators should have this information and it should be hidden from everybody else.

I think Lane was asking from an 'ethical' standpoint.

Perhaps an "Anonymous" choice could be included in that list. Participation in online surveys should increase if the participants could feel assured that NO ONE can trace their answers back to them. Idea

Of course a cookie will still keep track once they participate in the survey to keep them from responding multiple times.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 10:46 AM - Response #15

We have no plans to change this for 2 reasons:

1) Numerous surveys require viewing of the Classmates' answers. It could be something as simple as "Are you having the chicken dinner at the reunion or do you want to have the vegetarian dish instead?" If Admins couldn't view the answers there would be all kinds of surveys they'd need to do that would now be impossible.

2) Although we could add an "Anonymous" checkbox, 1 of 2 things is going to happen if we did. 1, we'd need to include the ability to uncheck Anonymous so Admins could go see an answer if they needed to for some reason. If we include the ability to uncheck it, then we might as well not make such a checkbox in the first place. 2, if an Admin clicks Anonymous, precluding themselves from ever viewing the specific answers and we give no way to get around it after the fact, then every time some Admin decides later they do need access to a specific answer they'll be contacting us all the time. Trust me it will happen repeatedly. When they get contacted with this question what are we going to tell them, "sorry, it was you who checked the box, there's nothing we can do for you." I don't think that'd go over too well. It could even be something as simple as somebody had checked the box inadvertently. Realistically with such scenarios we would wind up having to help people get their answer even if they had checked the box.

Bottom line, Admins can see most information on the site already baring their Classmates' personal emails. Somebody has to be charged with having authority over the data, so there will always be all kinds of things an Admin can see that Classmates cannot.

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 4:59 AM - Response #16

Thanks, Brad. The chicken/veggie example clarified everything. I believe it may also point the way to a solution to the anonymity problem. (The problem is that since Surveys are not anonymous, they cannot contain questions that ask for information that participants might consider personal and private. It's not just the ethics involved - people won't participate or won't be honest in such surveys.)

Surveys that are intended to gather anonymous data about populations, like how many are vegetarian, are different from questionnaires intended to get information about individuals, like who wants to order chicken or veggies at the reunion. CC should offer both types, with one always anonymous and the other not. They should have different names, like Surveys and Questionnaires. It wouldn’t require much programming. Surveys and Questionnaires could have identical features except for the anonymity.

A big advantage of the CC Poll is that it’s always anonymous and the anonymity is not under the control of the administrators. That gives participants a comfortable feeling of safety in answering any question. Surveys that are always anonymous would give participants that same safe feeling and would make personal questions possible. (Incidentally, the Poll feature should tell participants that it's anonymous so participants don't have to take Admins' word for it.)

Having two different types of surveys should also solve the problem that you mentioned – that Admins might need to see someone’s answer for some reason. If an Admin has chosen a Survey whose purpose is gathering anonymous data about a population, not individuals, there would be no reason to see what any individual said.

You may be right that a checkbox to make Surveys anonymous wouldn’t work. All of CC’s checkboxes can be unchecked, so Admins would expect that capability. But choosing something with a different name with no such checkbox, like the Poll feature whose anonymity Admins know they can't control, doesn’t give that expectation. Have Admins contacted you often asking to see individual answers in the Polls?

Edited 09/09/10 5:05 AM
Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 8:37 AM - Response #17

It sounds like you are talking about a "Multi-question POLL"

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 2:18 PM - Response #18

OK, if that's what you want to call it. But the current CC Survey feature has much more flexibility than the Poll in the types of questions allowed, number of surveys at one time, hints, images that can be inserted, etc. It would be nice to keep that flexibility along with anonymity.

If CC doesn't want to add a third type of survey as I suggested (Poll, Anonymous Survey, Personal Questionnaire), an acceptable solution would be simply to expand the current CC Poll to include all the features of the Survey while keeping the anonymity of the Poll. That would be easy since all the code already exists for the Survey.

Edited 09/09/10 2:22 PM
Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 7:17 PM - Response #19

I think there's a little confusion here so let me clarify and address some of your questions too:

1) The Survey feature IS ALWAYS ANONYMOUS to Classmates even if you've checked to make the survey results public. Classmates can NEVER seen somebody's specific answer. They can ONLY see group results. So anonymity is already built in by default. When you're logged in as the Admin ONLY YOU can drill down and see specific Classmate answers. Try logging in as a Classmate and do the same thing and you'll see the difference or just take my word for it, Classmates never have access to people's specific survey answers. If an Admin needs to get somebody into specific answers they already have the option of making that somebody a co-Admin with access just to Survey Maker. With this in mind, I see no need for a different type of Survey or Questionnaire.

2) "Have Admins contacted you often asking to see individual answers in the Polls?" No. But that's because not only do we promote the Poll is primarily an entertainment feature, the Poll is not set up with all of the sophisticated functionality of the Survey Maker that would lend itself to the type of questions Admins would need individual Classmate answers for in the first place. The Poll is really just intended to add a little fun to the home page, while the Survey Maker is intended for the serious collection of data. The Poll is intended to be fast and simple -- it's not something where we'd want to add all of the functionality of the Survey Maker (many Admins rotate poll questions all the time, we want to keep it easy and fast for people). That's why we built the Survey Maker -- they're both there to fulfill different needs.

Friday, September 10, 2010 at 12:22 AM - Response #20

Hi, Brad. Thanks for the detailed information about how the Survey feature works, but I was already aware of it. The problem is that admins can always see each participant’s Survey answers. Of course we don’t have to tell non-admins that, but we don’t want to do that for an entirely selfish reason – we’d never be able to sleep for the rest of our lives. In fact we’ve already told our classmates we have access to each participant’s answers and there’s nothing we can do about it.

You said “the Survey Maker is intended for the serious collection of data.” For getting reliable information about a population as a whole, anonymous data are more important than data that are not collected anonymously. That's why serious surveys are almost always anonymous.

With an anonymous survey, website members could find out all kinds of interesting personal things about their classmates as a whole. It would be a terrific feature that would really add to the website. Keep the Poll and Survey Maker as they are, but please add an anonymous survey capability.

Friday, September 10, 2010 at 1:57 AM - Response #21

Lane Yoder wrote:

...You said “the Survey Maker is intended for the serious collection of data.” For getting reliable information about a population as a whole, anonymous data are more important than data that are not collected anonymously. That's why serious surveys are almost always anonymous.

I disagree with you, Lane.

I was in the survey business for 30 years. We conducted service quality information from customers of financial institutions throughout the US. We conducted "confidential surveys".

We knew who was getting the surveys and who returned them. We promised the consumers as a professional research firm, we would only use the answers they gave us to categorize groups and present results. We never revealed to the client how specific respondents answered specific questions.

Clients never got the survey forms back. (We provided anonymity.)

We sometimes used coding on survey forms. For example the institution would give us the mailing list, but they would also give us codes for how long the account had been open and what kinds of services they were using. A bar code printed on the questionnaire allowed us to 'look-up' that institution-provided data and append it to the results from the survey form.

This enabled us to cross-tabulate survey answers by factors such as age, how long a relationship the customer had with the institution and which types of accounts they had there. This data was MORE RELIABLE because people don't always remember how long they've had an account at their bank or what kinds of accounts they have. (We never got account numbers.)

Even without coding, a survey involves selection of a list -- and the organization conducting the survey knows who gets the questionnaire.

"Polls" are generally taken by self-selecting people. I throw the question up on the internet and those who visit decide to take it or not. Even with a very large participation, polls are generally inaccurate because those taking it are not representative of the universe of customers/users/etc.


Edited 09/10/10 2:06 AM
Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 5:49 PM - Response #22

Almost two years to the day that I see a question was asked about the possibility of surveys being anonymous. I was wanting to use surveys as a means to gather information from website members which needs to be kept anonymous or there will be no responses. Sad I'm disappointed to see that the suggestion for an Anonymous Survey has not been offered.

Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 8:28 PM - Response #23

I was under the impression that the root Admin. could go to the other admin's profiles, and by 'un-checking' the 'Survey Maker' box, this would prevent the other admin's from seeing the results.
Gonna have to try that when I get back! [on a LONG road trip these days]

Saturday, May 12, 2012 at 8:38 PM - Response #24

I'm the only admin. and don't want this admin. to be able to see who answers what. True, I don't have to look . . . but I'd rather not have that option. Smile

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