Conducting a survey anonymously might sound like a great idea, but will it really deliver the results you’re looking for?
What is it?
Anonymity lets you gather feedback without collecting your participants’ personal information. With this feature, you can’t see who participated or who said what – you’ll just see the raw, honest feedback. When a participant knows that a survey is Anonymous, they’re more willingly to answer with candor.
How do I enable it?
Available in the Premium package and above, Anonymity can be turned on in the Design tab of the platform. To make a survey anonymous:
- Open your survey in Edit mode.
- Click on the Options wheel next to Visual Settings in the Design tab.
- Select Anonymity in the drop down and click the switch next to “Would you like to make this project Anonymous?”.
- Choose to make your project either Anonymous or Semi-Anonymous (more on that later), click Save, and you’re good to go!
Why would I enable it?
Enabling Anonymity is great if you want to collect candid feedback. For example, say you’re conducting an employee engagement survey. You want your participants to give honest feedback, and your employees want to give just that. But… they may be hesitant to do so if they think that less than positive reviews might be traced back to them. Enabling Anonymity means that they can fill out the survey without fear of repercussions of others in the organization finding out what they said.
Anonymity can also help you stay compliant with certain laws and security standards that might be necessary.
For more reasons you might choose Anonymity, check out this blog.
How does this affect my project?
When you enable Anonymity, you gain some trust from your participants, but you lose a few capabilities within the platform. Certain features are disabled to ensure that the project actually stays Anonymous.
In Design, you’re Data Pre-Population options are restricted. The only type of Pre-Population available is Editable. You can’t hide the Pre-Population or make it un-editable. This is to ensure that you aren’t collecting information about the participant that: (a) they don’t know you are collecting or (b) they don’t want you to collect.
Not only can you not see who said what, you also can’t see who responded to the survey. This means that in Track Survey, you won’t be able to see who already completed the survey. However, through the system, you can choose to send Reminders to all participants that haven’t responded. Here, again, you won’t be able to see to whom these Reminders were sent or how many reminders a person received.
When a survey is Anonymous, the participant’s IP address, email address, and date and time of participation are not collected. This means that when reporting, you can’t see, Filter by, or Segment by these details unless provided by the participant in an answer.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
There are some design errors that can work against your use of anonymity. When you make these mistakes, participants can feel as though the survey is not actually anonymous or that you may have information about them that can tie them back to their response. In order to keep you participants’ trust, avoid the following:
- Using Mail Merge in the email template to greet the person by name
- Using Pre-Population to pre-fill any potentially identifying information about the participant (name, department, date of birth, etc.)
- Asking for any identifying information (especially if those questions are Mandatory!), unless they indicate that they would like to be contacted
What’s the deal with the Semi-Anonymous feature?
Semi-Anonymity, available in the Enterprise package, is similar to regular Anonymity. The only difference is that with a Semi-Anonymous project, once you expire the project, you can request a list of participants from the SoGoSurvey team. You still won’t be able to see who said what, but you can see who participated. This is helpful in the event that you need to confirm participation in order to offer credit, to provide an incentive, or simply to verify the action.
How is this different from a confidential survey?
When a survey is confidential, the onus is on the project administrator to keep participants’ identifying information safe. While an Anonymous or Semi-Anonymous survey is automatically confidential, the reverse isn’t necessarily true. Even if a survey is administered as “confidential”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s technically Anonymous not Semi-Anonymous, and the administrator can see who responded and who said what. To ensure confidentiality, responses should only be reported collectively or in critical segments that are large enough to avoid revealing identities. That way, people other than the administrator can see only the aggregate data and not who said what.
Anonymity isn’t the best choice for every survey, but when it is, it can help to build trust between you and your participants. If you’re still not sure if Anonymity is right for your project, you can always consult the User Guide or sign up for a training support call from within the Help Center in your account.