Dumb Survey Results Followed by Even Dumber Reporting

Is a news trail about a shocking “tech terms” multiple-choice survey taken by American consumers on behalf of UK outfit Vouchercloud still valid if:

a) The LA Times reporter who started it all never actually saw the survey?;

b) The methodology and margins-of-error for said survey are completely unknown?;

c) The survey answers – including the headline-grabbing claim that 11% of Yanks answering think HTML refers to a sexually transmitted disease – suggest that many of the alleged two-thousand-plus respondents raced through the questionnaire with carelessness, goofiness, or both?

LAT tech reporter Salvador Rodriguez‘s pick-up of a Vouchercloud press release blazed a trail across the Internet Tuesday, most notably as a Drudge link, Romenesko headline of the day, Time item and BuzzFeed pictorial. But some good digging by iMediaEthics managing editor Sydney Smith has led BuzzFeed’s Ryan Broderick, Time‘s Jessica Roy and Romenesko to all post updates. Here is BuzzFeed’s:

So far, the folks responsible for the survey aren’t answering questions from this reporter, Smith, BuzzFeed and others as to exactly when-how the poll was conducted. So we’ll leave you instead with this more authoritative reply from Rodriguez to iMediaEthics’ Smith:

The reporter confirmed that he only saw “the press release they [Vouchercloud PR agency] sent me and not a copy of the survey.”

P.S. It’s never a good sign when the name of the PR agency in question can be read as ten-times-the-Abominable-Snowman. The messengers of the Vouchercloud survey heard around the American media world go by the moniker of 10 Yetis PR.

Update (1:00 p.m.):
LAT reporter Rodriguez has now added the work he should have done all along. He has shared the full results of the Vouchercloud survey and, in a separate article update, quotes 10 Yetis PR account executive Leanne Thomas as saying the non-incentivized survey was conducted via email over a period of seven days. The quality of the answers begs further questions from our end: what was the U.S. geographical distribution of the respondents?; what was the age-range breakdown of respondents?; is there any estimated margin of error?; and how were respondents properly confirmed as being U.S. residents?.

Previously on Mediabistro:
A Typo-Filled Anniversary for 2012 New York Subway Incident Victim
Medill Journalism Student: ‘Clearly I Did Not Know the Proper Way to Aggregate’

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