The results of our reader survey are in. What did we learn? Well, most importantly, we learned that SurveyMonkey sucks.
Unbeknownst to us, a “free account” only allows you to view the results of your survey’s first hundred respondents. Moreover, it also apparently makes an annoying sales pitch at the end for everyone who takes the survey — apologies. So that makes this, ChinaGeeks’s first ever reader survey, a bit of a misfire. Next time around, we’ll find something that’s less annoying than SurveyMonkey and do a more thorough survey.
But since we have the results from this one — well, the first hundred, anyway — we might as well share them! Below are screencaps from the first four questions, as well as my own post-game analysis.
This question was the real reason for conducting the survey to begin with; I was curious as to what percentage of our readership accesses the site without a VPN, and therefore, how many people we should expect to lose if/when the site is blocked. To get more indicative results, though, what I should have asked was whether or not people have some way of getting around the GFW and if so, whether or not they generally use it.
The purpose of this question was to see how many people would prefer this were just a “pure” translation blog. Given that only 35% of respondents indicated they preferred translations, it looks like the opposite may be true; perhaps we’re a bit too reliant on translations.
The first option in this question makes no sense at all, since people who only read posts linked by other sites would never have seen the post about the survey to begin with (we already had a hundred responses before the end of that day, so anyone who responded after clicking one of the links in yesterday’s post, for example, isn’t reflected in these data). I am surprised by the percentage of people who say they read most ChinaGeeks posts, but on the other hand, those who chose to fill out a survey are obviously a rather self-selecting crowd in the first place.
The response to this question — which respondents could check multiple answers for — also caught me by surprise. Given that our content is often dry and generally political, I did not expect that such a large percentage of our readers would also be regular readers of chinaSMACK. chinaSMACK is awesome, of course, but I was expecting Danwei, ESWN, or CHINAYOUREN to be the winner here because our content is closer in tone and subject to theirs. But perhaps this is just the result of chinaSMACK having become such a success that everyone reads it. I know I do.
This was the free response question, and thus the one that provided the most interesting responses. Below, I’ve pasted some selections from the answers. As a reminder, the prompt was: “Anything else you want to tell us about how you use the site, or your thoughts? Recommendations? Your favorite breakfast cereals?”
Needless to say, we got a lot of information about breakfast cereals.
“Keep the focus on politics and culture. And, while it’s fine to talk about the “divide” between (certain elements of) Chinese society and (certain elements of) Western society, don’t make overcoming misunderstanding and all loving each other blah blah the problem to be resolved. Make problems–freedom of speech (or lack thereof), economic inequality, Western misrepresentation of China, whatever–the problem.”
“Love your site and and 湿饭 for breakfast please”
“Use it to assist in teaching about modern China. Cheerios & Corn Flakes mix with blueberries.”
“Love your site, hands down the best China site I’ve come across. Analysis is balanced and considered, and most importantly, avoids the tired China cliches. But mostly, I really appreciate the work you put in to help people like me, whose mastery of Chinese falls pathetically short of being able to 看懂 Chinese language blogs and news articles. One day, one day, I hope to be good enough to translate for this site. [insert 无数个 obsequious comments here]. As for my favourite (yes, I’m British) breakfast cereal, I really dig the healthy kinds, no sugar etc. but I’ve yet to find anything good in China which is reasonably priced. If you could recommend anything, I would be very much indebted to you. (Also need a good milk brand)! I’m serious about this.”
“More analysis, fewer translations. (Or at least the latter should be accompanied by the former.)”
“ROBOTS think your WEBSITE should be spelled Web site!!” ((This was clearly a personal friend of mine who occasionally reads the blog. He’s making a reference to the recent change in AP Style, which now dictates that “website” is the proper spelling — the old spelling was “Web site”.))
“The analysis is good on the translations. Put some opinions out there.
It would be nice too if any interesting comments underneath the translated article were translated too, to get some analysis or reactions from Chinese minds.”
Indeed, that’s what ChinaGeeks Chinese is for!
“我希望你能够写一些介绍你自己的文章 i hope you can write something about yourself. Can’t wait to know more about you. haha”
Check this out, then.
“I listen to Sinica podcasts too, that’s how I found out about this site. I check news sites in Chinese quite frequently, but the amount of material on them is too much. I find your site useful for highlighting issues that I am actually interested in, then I can go and find Chinese commentary on them afterwards. Your site is great. Thanks!”
“More news on chinese music please!”
“I enjoyed your education themes; health issues will be wellcome. Thanks again.”
“more discrete broad range or sections ie. youth culture, business, domestic politics, internet scandals.”
I don’t know a lot about Chinese business, music or health-related issues. We could use a contributor with some expertise in any or all of those areas.
“I like turtles.”
“I’m an ABC living in A, looking for short Chinese prose that I can read alongside translations; I’m interested in Chinese politics/news, but satisfied with the glimpses I get from the language-oriented blogs I follow. In the past I’ve subscribed to Danwei, china/divide, chinaSMACK, and Evan Osnos’ blog; they’ve all been sacrificed to preserve the spartan sanctity of my rss reader. Still subscribed to sinoglot, sinosplice, and han han. My ideal blog is low volume, high quality.”
“I love your translations but could do without the commentary.”
“I find the blog posts and analysis very interesting as well, but the translation stuff is most useful for me in my work. I know that the Nanfang group probably provides the most interesting critical opinion pieces, but perhaps a little more diversity would be good. Having said that, I don’t know whether there is anyone else writing the same sorts of things in Chinese, so maybe there is no point diversifying if NF is the best!
The reason I really like the site is this: it shows that Chinese media/blogosphere is not all Xinhua propaganda, and that’s something that would surprise a western audience (or at least a western audience which doesn’t have much knowledge about China, which is prob about 99.9%).”
“Why are you quick to label someone “troll”?”
Other than the guy pretending to be Kai (who is now banned from commenting), who have I called a troll?
“I’m a fan of Trix, but the Chinese version of Trix is quite different from the one back home. I’ve finally gotten used to it. Can I ever go back to the real one?”
Only God knows.
Thanks to everyone for their kind words — I left some of the nice comments out here for the sake of space, but rest assured, I read them — and their constructive comments. Rest assured that we take your opinions seriously, and we take your cereal-related problems somewhat less seriously (but we can relate, for sure). Since there were issues with this survey, we may do another one in a few months that’s more well-thought out, more thorough and less ad-filled. Can anyone recommend a good free survey-making service?
Other Housekeeping Things
As we’re in the habit of occasionally reporting readership statistics and haven’t in a while: we’ve been hovering around 1,200 RSS subscribers for the past month or so. The website itself gets about 500 unique visitors a day when we haven’t been linked by any other sites, and we have 85 email subscribers. ChinaGeeks Chinese gets between 30-50 visitors a day on average (not too bad, considering how new it is and the low post frequency), but has no email subscribers or RSS subscribers according to Feedburner (which I suspect is lying to me). However, on April 19th, ChinaGeeks Chinese got nearly 3,000 unique visitors in one day because of this post.
So there’s your comprehensive ChinaGeeks related update…for now. As usual though, we’ve got an exciting and perhaps overly ambitious new thing in the works, which you’ll hear about soon enough.