Tag Archives: mattpluggedin

Rats, Respondents, and Rutabega

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For a long time now, I’ve been struggling to find a word that means what I want it to mean. Today, @mattpluggedin asked the question out loud so I decided to try and voice my internal discussion here.

“What do you call people who provide market research data?”



Rats: Well, I guess this one’s just too offensive to consider though it’s often accurate – human and otherwise. Cross it off.

Subjects: Many years ago, this was the word researchers used to address people. Kind of disrespectful even for furry friend subjects”.

Respondents: Ok, little better. Someone who responds to something or someone, a survey or focus group leader for example.

Participants: Now it gets tough. To me, a participant is someone who is actively engaged in a process, almost a partnership. This is the most common word used among research surveyors as it denotes a level of respect the other labels lack. I really don’t feel that participant always reflects how we treat people who answer surveys but I guess it’s the best we have for now.

Contributors: What? What is this word? This is the word I suggest we use in the social media research world. Contributors have not been asked to participate in research even though they have published their opinions for all to see. They are not responding to anything nor are they participating in anything. They are merely making data available, or contributing data, to those who wish to read and appreciate it. I’ve noodled around other words but nothing has hit the spot for me. So I’ll stake my ground here.

And the rutabega? Well, I just threw that in for fun.

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