Cheating in Online Surveys

Before you get excited about your new-found career getting paid to take surveys online, you should be aware of how they work. They pay what is commonly referred to as “chump change”, when they pay at all. The pay rates range from .50 to a couple of dollars. On rare occasions you will find one that pays five dollars. For the one dollar you will get, on average, you can expect to spend twenty minutes or so on the survey, so this is not going to be a source of considerable income. Some are fairly prompt about paying, while others will make you wait up to eight weeks after you claim a payment.

For those people who really try to earn money completing surveys, the more surveys you fill out and the faster you can do them, the greater your potential reward. There are some people, known in the industry as “straight liners”, who do not pay attention to any of the material presented to them. They randomly click a checkbox on the page and go to the next page and do it again. Some surveys have managed to build in traps for people like that. They may, for example, compare an answer from one page of the survey to the answer on another page. If the taker has been paying attention and giving honest answers, the responses will match. If they do not match, that person will not get paid for finishing that survey.

Many surveys will ask a series of qualifying questions. Whether you get to take the actual survey or not will depend on your answers to those qualifying questions. Can you lie in order to qualify? Many times you can. If your children are all grown, you can still say you have young ones at home. The results of such a survey will be inaccurate but the service presenting the survey will probably not know.

There is one type of survey that is almost certain to get dishonest results. The qualifying questions will ask such things as how old you are and which state you live in. Then you will be asked some questions about your responsibilities in terms of the information systems where you work. In order to qualify for one of these surveys (and thus get paid) you must be in charge of procuring, installing, and/or maintaining the hardware and software at your place of employment. Think about that. If you honestly tell them how much responsibility you actually have for decisions on information systems, you will not qualify. The people who do have decision making authority in that area are unlikely to spend 20 minutes of their time to earn a dollar by taking a survey. Therefore, most if not all of those who give the proper preliminary answers and thus qualify to take the survey have lied about their responsibilities. If the results of those surveys are used by any companies as a major factor in making decisions on the purchase, installation, maintenance, or upgrading of their information systems, they are acting on faulty and unreliable information.