How not to write a poll question

I have to say I think this is a terrible poll question.  From the LE:

le-xmas-poll-question

I say that for two reasons:

1) It’s written in a biased fashion.  It lends itself to a ‘yes’ answer as a result.  A good poll question is worded in a neutral manner.

2) I don’t think it’s the place of a newspaper to promote one religion, period.  This question does.

Oh and 3) It implicitly delegitimizes the celebration of Christmas as a secular, cultural holiday, which kind of dumps on the millions of people who celebrate the holiday without religion.

Boo on the Lebanon Express for running this question – and this is an extra-special boo, given in addition to the fact that since pretty much all of the questions aren’t scientific, the whole enterprise is useless as journalism.

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8 Comments on “How not to write a poll question”

  1. Tim Says:

    Wait a sec, I thought Festivus was the holiday for “the rest of us”.

  2. chase Says:

    Goes right along with the interview question. So did you stop beating your wife yet?

  3. Bernstein Says:

    These stupid website poll questions on a news site show just how far the whole journalism industry has fallen. I’d guess it’s silliness mandated by their corporate puppet master. Give the LE credit, at least they don’t pretend these polls have any real meaning and turn them into front page stories, unlike at least one local paper.

  4. Dennis Says:

    True, true. On the other hand, they do run the results on the website.

    Mmmmm…. this is a good example of what happens when editorial gets slightly overrun by advertising. After all, the poll is “interactive,” which is synonymous with “someone thinks it’ll bring in more web traffic.” You know what else would be interactive? A comments system that wasn’t five years out of date. And some social networking tools. It can’t be too hard to ape the NYT on this front.

  5. Roxy Says:

    I just noticed the poll question seems to go with the “Origin of Christmas” thing on the opinion page, which is the Bible passage about the birth of Jesus.

    Just thought I’d point it out.

  6. Rachel Says:

    So why didn’t you post your thoughts on the LE website?

  7. Dennis Says:

    Three reasons:

    1. As far as I know, it’s not possible to leave a comment on a poll.

    2. If #1 was possible, I probably wouldn’t do it anyway given the terrible comment system employed by Lee. It’s far more hassle than it’s worth.

    3. I have a blog, on which I can control my presence and presentation. That’s not true of the LE website.

    Besides (and I suppose this is #4), I have other ways to express my opinion to the LE staff…. which I most definitely employed on this one.

  8. Rachel Says:

    1. Every week an online story is published summarizing the results of the previous week’s poll.

    2. That, I can’t help you with.

    3. Not saying you shouldn’t also put your comments on your blog.

    4. My point is you SHOULD have expressed your opinion to the LE staff… directly. I would have been made aware of your valid feedback much sooner had you posted it to the website, or sent me an email expressing your concerns. Which, if your intent is to affect change, would be a more effective way of doing so. And, it shows a little more respect for the three people currently staffing the office, all of whom you are on a first-name basis with.


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