August 30, 2009

Paid Surveys: My Experience

Before 2007 I filled out online surveys whenever I had the chance. There were several benefits. Surveys were fun to fill out, gave me a chance to voice my opinions, and influenced decisions made by companies. In January 2007 I realized I might be able to fill out surveys for those benefits, and get paid too!

I researched many online survey sites and subscribed to several. For the next two years I filled out several surveys a week. I wish I had kept detailed records so that for each survey company I could report statistics including the number of surveys I received, the number I was screened out of, the average time per survey, the average earnings per survey, and more. The only record I kept was a spreadsheet in which I recorded payments I received during a period of about two years. Those totals follow.

American Consumer Opinion $26.00 (4 surveys)
Brand Institute $0.00 (0 surveys)
Esearch $22.00 (5 surveys)
Global Test Market $95.35 (many surveys)
Greenfield Online $16.00 (many surveys)
MySurvey $60.00 (many surveys)
Opinion Outpost $50.60 (many surveys)
Survey Savvy $3.50 (2 surveys)
Technology Advisory Board $0.00 (0 surveys)

Total earnings for 2 years $276.45

Survey Companies

I'll list the companies I joined and make some comments about each one. Since I didn't keep detailed records, these comments are my impressions based on memory. I apologize for any errors.

American Consumer Opinion
This is one of my favorite survey companies. I am still a member. They don't send me many surveys, but I often qualify for the surveys they do send, and they pay well.

Brand Institute
I never qualified for one of their surveys. Their surveys always included a screening question asking if I had participated in any market studies recently. (I don't remember the exact wording or the time period they used.) I assume every survey is a market study, so I always answered yes. I was screened out of every survey.

I am still a member of Esearch. They don't send me many surveys. Occasionally I qualify for a survey and they pay me for my time.

Global Test Market
I earned more money from this company than from any other, but I also probably took more of their surveys. They sent me a lot of surveys, sometimes several per day. Overall I decided their surveys took more time than they were worth. I am no longer a member.

Greenfield Online
This company sent me a lot of surveys, sometimes several a day. Often the surveys redirected me to OTX, which wrote surveys that were incompatible with my browser. I am no longer a member.

Harris Poll Online
I didn't list Harris Poll Online above because the points they give you for completing surveys have no monetary value. Harris Poll points work like S&H Green Stamps used to work (for those of you from the US who are old enough to remember). There's a rewards catalogue from which you can choose items to get for your credits. I think Harris Poll Online was the first survey site I joined, many years ago. I am still a member. I don't think I have ever traded in any points.

I am still a member of MySurvey. They send me several surveys a week. The surveys are generally short and usually earn 10 points. Frequently, my answers to a short survey qualify me for a longer survey worth more points. A thousand points is worth $10.00. It takes a lot of surveys to earn $10.

NPD Online Research
I didn't list NPD Online Research above because they pay in points, which cannot be redeemed for cash (or products). The points you earn are only good to buy entries in sweepstakes that are always in progress. I have never won anything. I am still a member.

Opinion Outpost
This company sent me a lot of surveys. I came to resent the way this company wasted my time. I cancelled my membership. Here's what happened the last time I received a survey invitation from Opinion Outpost. (I took notes.) I clicked on the survey link and was given several questions to answer on the first screen. After completing those questions I was given demographic questions to answer, one question per screen. After completing those I was asked a series of questions about health insurance. When I finished answering those questions I received a message saying their quota for the survey had already been filled.

Survey Savvy
This company pays you for referring people to Survey Savvy and for filling out surveys. That sounded good to me. Of course before I recommended them to anyone I wanted to do business with them for awhile to make sure they were worth recommending. In two years I was only able to fill out two surveys for Survey Savvy, worth $3.50. I never recommended the company to anyone. I am no longer a member.

Technology Advisory Board
They sent me very few surveys. I never qualified for one of their surveys.

Recurring Issues

1. Several companies require that you fill out the same classification data at the beginning of every survey. The data includes personal information -- age, gender, income, employment status, number of adults in household, number of children in household, country, state, zip code, and more. The companies should store that data, use it to determine which surveys to send you, and automatically use it in surveys as needed. The data is not secret if you're willing to give it. The question is whether you should have to give it once or over and over.

2. Some surveys have so many screening questions that you think you've almost finished the survey only to reach a screen that tells you you're not eligible for that survey. I found that survey behavior infuriating. It was not uncommon for me to spend 15 minutes answering questions only to then be screened out. Companies should store the screening data about you and not even send you surveys for which you aren't eligible.

3. Some surveys only work in Internet Explorer and don't let you take them in Internet Explorer if you've attempted to take them in another browser first. My default browser was Mozilla 3.72. When I'd click a survey link in an email Mozilla would open and the survey would give an error saying Internet Explorer was required. So I'd copy the link, open Internet Explorer, paste the link into the address bar, and the survey would give me an error saying I had already taken that survey.

4. Surveys crashed way too often. Sometimes surveys got stuck in error loops. Some surveys redirected me to another company conducting the survey. Some of the other companies I remember are BrainJuicer, Nielsen, and OTX, for example. All three of those companies crashed my browser more than once. BrainJuicer locked up my browser so often that I just stopped taking surveys when BrainJuicer was involved.

5. As part of a survey's screening questions, several companies started asking about the topics of surveys I had taken in the past so many weeks or months. There was no way to answer those questions without keeping a list of dates and surveys that I could refer to whenever I received a question about recent surveys. In a given week I might receive surveys about cell phones, automobiles, coffee, hotels, restaurants, grocery shopping, etc, but only pass the screening questions for one or two surveys. Without a record there was no way a week or a month later to know what surveys I had taken.

6. Occasionally a survey would let me make it all the way to the end and then refuse to accept my answers saying the session had timed out.

Copyright © 2009 by Jon Maloney

August 13, 2009

List of Time-Travel Books

I like stories involving time travel, in spite of time travel's unbelievability. I maintain a list of time-travel novels divided into four groups: I have read, I own but have not read, I want to acquire & read, and I might want to get later. The list reflects my own tastes. It is not intended to be comprehensive. In general, I exclude books for children and teens, books intended to be humorous, and fantasy romances in which someone mysteriously travels into the past and falls in love. Also, the older a book is the less likely I am to include it.

Shown below is my list as it is today. Perhaps it will evoke memories of books you have read or introduce you to books you would like to read. I hope you enjoy the list. The books in bold font are the books I enjoyed the most. A few short stories are included, indicated by quotation marks around the titles. Short story links go to books that include the stories. Please let me know in the comments if you see any errors. Thanks.

Time-Travel Novels (and a few good short stories)

I have Read

1895 The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
1941 Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp
1951 The Weapon Shops of Isher by A. E. Van Vogt
1952 "A Sound of Thunder" by Ray Bradbury
1957 The Door into Summer by Robert Heinlein
1961 The Big Time by Frtiz Leiber
1962 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
1962 Worlds of the Imperium by Keith Laumer
1969 Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
1969 Times without Number by John Brunner
1970 Time and Again by Jack Finney
1973 A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
1973 Time-Jump by John Brunner
1976 The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
1976 Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
1977 Once Upon Another Time by Robert C. Lee
1980 Timescape by Gregory Benford
1981 "The Pusher" by John Varley
1982 No Enemy but Time by Michael Bishop
1983 The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
1986 Replay by Ken Grimwood
1987 "At the Cross-time Jaunters Ball" by Alexander Jablokov
1987 "Forever Yours, Anna" by Kate Wilhelm
1987 "The Forest of Time" by Michael Flynn
1988 Lightning by Dean Koontz
1989 "Great Work of Time" by John Crowley
1989 "The Price of Oranges" by Nancy Kress
1990 "Invaders" by John Kessel
1991 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
1992 The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
1995 Over the River and Through the Woods by Clifford D. Simak
1995 The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
1995 Time Scout by Robert Asprin & Linda Evans
1997 Einstein's Bridge by John Cramer
1998 Island in the Sea of Time by S. M. Stirling

I Own but have Not Read

1955 The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
1958 The Time Traders by Andre Norton
1968 Hawksbill Station by Robert Silverberg
1969 The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
1977 Time Storm by Gordon R. Dickson
1980 Thrice Upon a Time by James P. Hogan
1981 The Many-Colored Land by Julian May
1983 Millennium by John Varley
1991 The Time Patrol by Poul Anderson
1999 Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer
2001 The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson
2007 The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman

I Want

1973 The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
1978 The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser
1985 The Proteus Operation by James P. Hogan
1986 The Cross-Time Engineer by Leo Frankowski
1991 A Bridge of Years by Robert Charles Wilson
1991 Across Realtime by Vernor Vinge
1991 Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
1998 A Fold in the Tent of the Sky by Michael Hale
2002 Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick
2006 14:40 to Midnight by Shawne Baines
2006 Sojourn by Jana G. Oliver
2006 The Cube Root of Time by Herbert Cohen
2006 The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas
2006 Wireless in the Fabric of Time by E. I. Johnson
2007 Across Time: Mystery of the Great Sphinx by O. J. Harp III

Maybe Later

1938 The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson
1965 The Other Side of Time by Keith Laumer
1968 The Masks of Time by Robert Silverberg
1969 Up the Line by Robert Silverberg
1979 Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
1986 A Time to Remember by Stanley Shapiro
1992 The Guns of the South by Harry Turtledove
1996 Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card
1997 In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
1999 Timeline by Michael Crichton
2003 The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
2004 Weapons of Choice by John Birmingham (1 of 3)
2005 Mammoth by John Varley
2006 The Time Travelers by Linda Buckley-Archer (1 of 3)
2007 Wired (Shomi) by Liz Maverick

Copyright © 2009 by Jon Maloney