Our survey said?

Surveys are not a new thing, though with the advent of the internet they became easier to present to us and equally as easy for us to ignore. It seems no matter what we do, or where we do it, somebody, somewhere, wants to know our opinion on whatever it is we’ve purchased or used or are interested in. Sometimes such requests come up at the end of a process online; for instance I’ve just taxed my van and the DVLA wanted to know if I was happy with the service and if it could be improved. My answers of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ were honest and the same as several previous answers.

Other surveys may appear a few days after purchases online, along the lines of ‘was I happy with the process?’, ‘did the item match the description?’, ‘would I recommend the seller to friends or family?’. There’s no obligation to fill such things in of course but it does allow you to have your say.

Such requests for information have to be tempered with freedom of information regulations and right to privacy laws these days, rightly so of course as the news bulletins on the radio are full of items about a major abuse of information from a popular social media site. My view on that – it is my view, not CDB’s or Mortons – is mixed, people seem to forget the social media is worldwide and reactions to items and comments are as near as instant as it’s possible to get and there are apparently companies who specialise in surveying such groups as we join online. Why do you think these pop-up adverts seem tailored to almost what we’re thinking about? It’s because our browsing history has been surveyed, in my case I’m being bombarded with adverts wanting to fulfil my needs for stainless steel Jubilee clips, books on traditional woodworking methods and, as of the other night, lights for a mountain bike.

A quick, personal survey of my own online habits reveals these adverts are closely matched and in the case of the woodworking books, I’m considering a release of funds for a non-motorcycling project – I’m building a shed which I mentioned a column or three ago. Bear with me a little longer and I’ll return to motorcycling themes. A deeper look into my online psyche reveals I’m interested in off-road motorcycling in all forms, with Bultaco and Triumph figuring highly; using vintage hand tools, be they from my trade or for fixing old motorcycles; mountains and quirky homes. The thing is, this information is out there and because it’s fairly innocuous I’m not all that concerned about it – though I await an advert from a Jubilee clip supplier, based on a mountain who has a Triumph and a Bultaco in his quirky shop. Actually now I’ve written that I’d probably buy my Jubilee clips there.

Pre-internet surveys were conducted by a simple editorial request in whatever magazine you read. The two big British motorcycling mags of yesteryear – the ‘Blue Un’ and ‘Green Un’ – regularly ran a small box with ‘your opinion matters…’ – encouraging the reader to tell the publisher what they thought. By and large, this can form a letters page.

An interesting question arises from these surveys and that is what actually happens to the information gained? Perhaps my own personal experiences might be of interest? I used to be sceptical of such surveys and requests at the end of a competition form, you know what I mean, something like “tell us in 20 words or less how you would improve the mag…’ Yeah, right, I thought, that’ll never be seen. I actually filled in one in The Classic MotorCycle before I started working for Mortons then, shortly after, I began working on the magazine. The customer services team were going through the backlog of surveys and mine popped up. A similar situation happened when I edited Classic Bike Guide and we gave away a Triumph T100 and every entry was read. So, opinions do matter, these surveys are read and note taken which is a roundabout way of telling you we have a survey running on our website and the information is on our news pages.

Why are we doing it? Well, it is as simple as actually wanting to know what you think and how we can improve the magazine. Arguably, just by being out there in the scene and interacting with enthusiasts, listening to opinions and suggestions is a form of survey, except I don’t always have a pen and notepad handy when I’m lining up for a section or on the startline.

The Classic Dirt Bike team would really appreciate it if you could spare a few minutes to complete our survey (details on the news pages). All those taking part will be entered into a free draw, with prizes of helmets and gloves up for grabs.

Tim Britton

Read more in the Summer issue (No.47) of CDB – out now!

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