zompist.com Reader Survey: Results

This survey ran for a couple of weeks in March 2006; I got about 294 responses. This was a lot of fun, and I thank everyone who responded. If you have your own site, try running your own survey!

Frequency tables

First I asked what parts of the site people read, and what they want to see more of:

It seems that most of my frequent readers are language geeks, though there's a surprising fondness for the rants and editorials. (Question 6 may explain this, however.)

The "want to see" answers basically parallel the "what you read" ones, only with lower numbers... apparently, people want to see more of what they're already reading, only not very fervently. :)

What do you all want to see next in Virtual Verduria? More of the what's already there, it looks like. I was a little surprised at the very small clamor for more stories, since that's what seems to me to be missing most.

(I'll get back to the essay questions below.)

I can interpret the selling question optimistically-- that the respondents are a rough random sample of my readers, and thus suggest the percentages of possible sales over the next few years. Or pessimistically: I only have 294 readers who are interested enough to fill out surveys, much less buy things. Thoughts like these are probably why I'm not in sales.

Anyway, it looks like I could sell about 29 shirts, which doesn't seem like a big money-maker. I might still pursue this just for fun.

Almost half of you would be in the market for a book version of the LCK... sounds like it's time to get back to work on that project. :)

It's nice that there's a fair clamor for AD 4901, which I've said essentially nothing about. I'd really like to make that and Babblers available. Of course I'd like to see them in bookstores, but I'm starting to think that may be not only difficult but not a very good business model. My friend Lore actually got a book published, a very funny one, which got some nice notices from influential people-- and it seemed to sink in the market like a stone. Books from unknowns generally pop into bookstores for a few weeks and then vanish forever. (Just try to find Kyril Bonfiglioli's mysteries... great, hilarious books which you can no longer guffaw over 'cause they're gone.)

My website, on the other hand, has been online for ten years and could last for decades more. Maybe selling books in a steady trickle will work out better than selling a flurry of books in that two-week window at the bookstores.

The Combine ragdoll is a reference to my friend Chris's Half-Life 2 comic-- the main character, Gordon Frohman, has one.

The answers to the political question surprised me. Based on my mail, and to some extend on the population of the ZBB, I figured I had a fair number of readers with very different politics. I'm really surprised to see so few out-and-out conservatives.

For the "What?" respondents: Joss Whedon redoing Star Wars was an idea I floated in a rant last year after seeing Serenity.

For the "No way" respondents: What are you thinking? I hope you're not thinking Eps 1-3 were OK as they were. Come on, it will be insanely great. Whedon knows how to do sf movies, Lucas doesn't, or he's forgotten.

I'm suppressing a couple of the rows here, because some of the characters will probably read this page and don't need to know how depressingly low they scored.

It was fun to check on this every day; Agent Orange was the clear winner early on, but Lore caught up right at the end-- a pretty impressive performance considering he's in a lot less cartoons.

(Actually the clear winner, with 133 votes, was "Other or None". Yeah, Other or None is a pretty good character. Now I wish I'd provided a fill-in.)

Essay questions

3. What do you want to see more of?
Naturally, the answers to this were all over the place. Many people had specific suggestions; not too many of them reinforced each other. Well, that's fine, I'm not planning on dying anyway.

Selected responses:

And why don't you summarize your arguments on free will you've been discussing at comp.ai.philosophy.
Man, I don't even remember mentioning those. Good idea, though, if only for the opportunity to complain about people who worry too much about free will.
If this survey is aimed at downsizing, don't pull the language construction kit!
Au contraire, one purpose was to offer guidance for new material. The LCK will stay right where it is.
Arcél Historical Atlas. I can dream, non?
I actually have a sketch of this, in Flash, which turns out-- my apologies to the couple of people who said they hated it-- to be a great prototyping tool for historical atlases. But it will take a few years' more work.
What would also be really nice is some B&W versions of some of the key maps that you could print out to refer to while reading, to find rivers/cities/etc. Your maps are gorgeous, but inconvenient to refer to on-line (I'm an old fuddy-duddy, maybe), and I haven't had much luck getting nice-looking results with a color printer yet.
I never thought of that; it's a good idea.
More Fuschia Chang!
Why, bless your heart. A couple of other people liked Fuschia too. Maybe I'll try to redo the long adventure story I wrote for her. (Though I'll have to work on the computer... my retinas can't stand staring too closely at paper for too long.)
I am itching to see the page on Endajue. And not just figuratively itching, either.
stuff featuring that fat guy in the cartoons.
Heh heh. However, it's clear that you haven't met these people. That description fits at least four of them.
Maybe some gay porn.
OK, sure, why not.
4. Any complaints?
Here the major expressed desire was for more updates. A couple of people complained about the site design, but didn't offer details... feel free to mail me if you want to expand on that.
You don't post new stuff often enough. Weekly would be nice.
For years I've been theoretically putting up new pages once a month. But maybe it's better to have something new every week, even if only a rant or something. Stay tuned.
But as we're at it, I liked the US election guides - why did you discontinue them?
They're a lot less fun to write when the wrong side is likely to win. 2008 should be interesting, though, not least because it ought to be a free-for-all for both parties.
I seldom understand SpinnWebe humor :( But since you obviously enjoy yourself a lot writing SpinnWebe stuff, please continue.

the spinnwebe things has such a narrow audience! and the rest of your page...well i see people looking at it everywhere. the audience for that is grand, while the spinnwebe things are not that interesting

Take that, fellow ruffiani!
Zompist.com does not contain enough flashing banners, pop-up advertisements, or hijacked links; particularly those that offer free ringtones if I can knock over a mailbox, give me smileys for my instant messenger, or promise me an X-Box 360 if I can identify whose ass I am being shown. Zompist.com is like the internet version of a calm breezy springtime meadow picnic with cute duckies swimming indolently in a pond - where the distant, cacophonous roar-and-honk of ad traffic is barely audible in the distance. As such, it's beginning to get a little uncomfortable. My girlfriend is starting to annoy me and the fire ants have gotten into the tabbouli. This meadow needs air-con, a trendy bistro, a quaint historical district that was built in 1991, and of course plenty of opportunities to add four inches and MAKE MONEY FAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please help, you da man.
Cute duckies?
The message board often seems to border on puerile.
Actually, there are regular border incursions.
Not a complaint, but a comment -- I started reading your website when I was about 15. I'm now 19, and it was your website that encouraged me to become a linguistics student at university -- which I am enjoying very much.
Cool... though don't blame me when you find out what the job market is like for linguistics majors...
9. Any tips on beating Prince in Civ4?
The consensus here-- among those who've played the game-- was "Dunno; tell us if you figure it out." And then there were those-- perhaps the same ones who read the Swatoons-- who said things like:
Nope. Didn't even know he was into gaming.

Take away his purple things, it makes him cry.

Only Michael Jackson can beat Prince. But he offers advice on his method in "Beat It": "No one wants to be defeated / Showin' how funky strong is your fighter / So don't overdo the wonders / Except maybe pyramids"

I prefer the Weird Al version. (And I never go for the Pyramids-- the later civics just aren't that helpful early on.)
Don't play it myself, but I've heard that "A prince must have no other objective, no other thought, nor take up any profession but that of war, its methods and its discipline, for that is the only art expected of a ruler."
Not actually a bad strategy, as we'll see later.
Trade useful techs early on, then max out on science and beat up your biggest rival for more territory. Invest in science like there's no tomorrow.
I think this was the only tip from someone who (presumably) can win at that level!
Try. Over and over again.
Also not bad advice, and in fact I took it. I tried a couple of Prince games last week; I was 2nd-to-last in the score in the first game, and 2nd in the second. And then I had a great game where I kicked ass and thought I'd beaten Prince, till it was over and I saw that I'd actually left the difficulty level at Noble. Oops.

Just tonight, however, I finished a game, and actually beat Prince, by a breezy 1200 points. A time victory, but I'm not complaining. Now I can actually write a strategy guide!

Sorry, I stopped at Civ 2. Oh, and while I didn't say anything back there at Q5 you might like to know I own a Kittens! On Fire! shirt.
Neat; you and I own the only ones in the world. And that turns out to be just one shirt below the level where Cafepress would actually cough up money.
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