About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Your Opinion is Important to Us

Since I still have a land line it is susceptible to getting calls from polling companies.

I kind of like this.  It is occasionally interesting because you can tell who's paying for the poll by the kinds of questions being asked and the way they are being phrased.  And who doesn't want to be asked their opinion.

But I've got to take a few minutes to complain in public about a call I got yesterday.

I was sitting around watching tennis from Roland Garros, so I figured I could watch tennis and be polled at the same time.  And the person taking the poll assures me it's just a few questions and won't go on for very long at all.

It turns out to be a poll on the NYC mayor's race.  I'm asked multiple times to choose whom I would vote for today, which I refuse to do.  There are two or three candidates I am strongly considering and a few I am strongly not, and I don't want to pick a side now when there haven't been any debates and the contest not yet fully in swing.  I'm read biographical descriptions of each candidate, all of them very much like what the candidates themselves would write.  Then there are questionable actions about each candidate that are read off, and I'm asked to say if these things give me super strong doubts or tiny doubts or no doubts.

I admire the even-handedness of the poll.  The biographies aren't suspiciously shady, and the doubt raising questions are all legitimate.  This one did block paid sick leave legislation, that one did have shady fund-raisers, another did travel through the revolving door.

However, the poll just goes on and on and on and on.  It takes a long time to read several candidate biographies and several more critical statements, and to repeat every time the "doubt" scale.   And I admit, I took up a few minutes pointing out that the quick poll was at ten minutes, and soon approaching twenty.  And then at around 18 minutes I explained that while I was sorry to have wasted everyone's time, I was hanging up.  Because I sure as heck wasn't giving more than twenty minutes of my life to participating in this poll.

And that's the thing I don't get.  How do you expect anyone to participate in a poll that's going to take a half hour out of their lives?  Anyone?  How can you have an accurate poll when the only people you'll get to take it are people with nothing better to do for an entire half hour.

Can Nate Silver explain this to me?

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