Survey Results – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Survey Results

Results of the Reader Survey

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I was blown away by the response to my survey – I thought we’d be doing well to get 100 surveys back, but after a week almost 1500 had been filled out!  It’s wonderful to see that BD’s site is so important to so many people.

I’d say that there are two key findings:

  • The typical BD site visitor, if such a thing exists, is a lurker in their late sixties who’s been solving for over thirty years and who visits the blog most days.
  • Regular commenters made up only 7% of the total response to the survey, so what you see in the comments each day is just the tip of the BD community iceberg.

Here are charts summarizing the responses to the four questions.  Clicking on a chart will open a larger version in a new browser window.

Question 1

Question 2

Question 3

Question 4

Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey.

46 comments on “Survey Results

  1. Interesting, thank you Mr K – it appears I am in every minority bar Q1.

    In relation to age of solvers, I’d be interested to see something similar for the age of setters, as I am frequently irked by clues that require knowledge from long before my time.

    Thanks again Mr K

    1. Good point.

      One of the solutions in today’s puzzle referred to a woman who died in the sixteenth century!

      Even I don’t remember her.

    2. Not so easy to get complete setter demographics, but going by photos from various Sloggers & Betters events several would count as relatively young. I do wonder sometimes if it’s a case of setters knowing their audience, and hence beginning work on a new DT puzzle with an internet search for actresses who were famous in the 1950s, etc..

  2. Thank you, Mr K – some of the stats eg age group and no. of years being a solver were pretty much as I’d expected but there are fewer folk than I’d envisaged who are avid ‘posters’!
    It’s amazing just how many site lurkers came out of the woodwork to complete the survey – hopefully a few of them may become ‘regulars’ but, even if they don’t, it’s gratifying to discover that they think enough about the service the site provides to complete the survey. I think that BD and all the bloggers should give themselves a well deserved pat on the back.

    1. I came out to complete the survey as the site is a rarity in itself – one that is done for love, not money. Many, many thanks to all.
      Interesting results, too, but now I’m worrying about what seems to happen to the brain at 70!

  3. Many thanks indeed Mr K, very interesting results!

    Like Jane, the age demographics and number of years solving were close to what I would have imagined, but it was quite a shock to find that the gang of regular posters, in which I’d include myself, is merely a very small tip of a gigantic hidden iceberg.

    A few suggestions for possible further survey questions that you may wish to consider:

    Do you normally attempt to solve just the backpager, or also attempt the Toughie too? (with never/occasionally/frequently/always as possible differentiators)
    Do you ever attempt cryptic puzzles from sources other than the Telegraph? (Subdivisions of answer at your discretion!)
    Do you normally solve online or from the hard copy print version of the newspaper?

    I’d be intrigued to know the results and hope others would too.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, silvanus. I plan to do another survey in a couple of weeks and I will include some of those questions.

  4. It is what I expected as well. Most people won’t comment because what they wish to say has already been said. How many times can you say 15a was my favourite and thanks to BD and setter? It is nice that they do and we all do but how many times do we say it. 1,500 is a bit much!

  5. Thanks Mr.K.
    I am gratified that so many have been solving for 30+ years. I have been (attempting) to solve for just over 2!! I feel pretty stupid when bloggers post how easy a puzzle is when I am struggling, now I don’t feel so bad!

    1. Hi, hoofit. From looking through the early survey responses it’s already clear that most blog visitors do not find back-page puzzles easy. I am sure that your honest accounts of your struggles and triumphs with these puzzles are greatly appreciated by the silent majority.

    2. Hoofit – you have breezed through puzzles I have struggled with, and vice-versa. I’m a 30-odd years solver. If you can solve anything you’re doing OK in my book! You must be doing well for one fifteenth of the time it’s taken me… to still not be able to finish some crosswords :smile:

  6. I, as a lurker, don’t have the time to do the crosswords every day so use Big Dave to look at the quicky pun Monday to Friday. I do use the clues on Saturdays and holidays

    Thanks Big Dave, Mr K and all the contributors and setters.


  7. Interesting! I too would be interested in the average age of the setters and how many are clergymen. Are there any women setters, would be good to see a balance with perhaps a fresh look at crossword setting? Perhaps also a short free text comment section asking what solvers want and how they would like to see the puzzles and the blog improved.

    1. It’s known that several of the Toughie setters are women. There’s biographical information on many UK crossword compilers here.

    2. Thank you, Mr K, for a very interesting survey. I agree with Brian that younger solvers are likely to want more contemporary references however I find something compellingly nostalgic about some of cryptic references and I enjoy all of the classical and religious knowledge. I tolerate the sporting references and have even learned a few things. Yes, there should be a balance but I wouldnt want setters like Giovanni to think that what they provide isn’t wanted.

      1. I agree with you, Ginny. Learning new words and their meaning and history is one of the pleasures of solving cryptic crosswords. As long as the wordplay gives the solver a decent chance of finding the answer even if they need to verify the definition later it’s all good with me. Giovanni’s clues invariably fall into that category. I should have put a :) after my reply to LbRoy up above because that obscure actress (Anna Neagle) is probably the only GK answer I can remember that wasn’t reasonably gettable from the wordplay (and she wasn’t in a Friday puzzle).

  8. An interesting survey, thanks for organizing it.

    I used to do the crossword while on the daily commute but since I’ve retired, ironically I don’t normally start it until after 8pm – by the time I’ve finished it or need help from the blog, it’s often quite late, which is why I don’t often leave comments.

    1. HI, PV. Glad you liked the survey.

      I don’t know if this is widely known, but five of the nine bloggers on the current back page team live outside the UK (Spain, North America, New Zealand) and the blog has readers all over the world. So a request for help at any time of day is likely to get a fairly quick response from somewhere. Also, all comments on a blog get emailed to the author of the blog and listed on the recent comments sidebar of the home page, so they will be read by many people even if they are posted late in the UK night.

  9. Interesting! I would probably comment now and again, except that I live most of my life off-grid and, so that I only have to go to the trouble of finding wifi to download the newspapers once per week, I do the crossword seven days in arrears. By the time I read the blogs, everyone else has long moved on, so I’d be talking to myself. I’ll be completing the next survey on Monday next week – hope that’s in time to be counted.

    1. Welcome from me too, Gayle. I’m keeping the second survey open until the early hours of next Tuesday, so if you complete it on Monday your responses will be counted.

  10. Well done and thank you for all the entertainment I get from the solvers as I try and finish the crossword. I am new to Cryptic Crosswords even though I’m 61! I have to work harder at the weekend!! Thank you for the fun, BD.

  11. I missed the survey but glad to have come across the results. Have posted a few times (less than 10) but seem to share the same name with Alex who commented here at 1143 on 25th. Can we co-exist or should I rename myself?

    1. Nothing will break if you share the same name, but discussions will definitely get confusing. So, yes, it would be a good idea to rename yourself.

      Glad you liked the survey.

  12. 1) 10-30yr
    2) a few times a week
    3) never
    4) 40-49
    Your sites brilliant
    Sorry never saw that u had a survey
    Take care

    1. Welcome from me too, Jamie.

      There’s a survey on experiences with Tuesday’s back pager (DT 28566) that’s still open. You’ll find it in the intro to my blog for that puzzle.

    1. The charts show the sample distribution of those visiting over a week who care enough about the blog to respond to a survey. It’s a reasonable description of the serious blog readership on any given day.

      You are correct that to obtain the distribution of the population of site visitors who care enough to fill out a survey, one would correct for biases like a weeklong survey only capturing 1/52 of those who visit once per year.

  13. Very interesting stats – thanks Mr. Kitty.

    To ‘conform’ I see that I need to (a) get older and (b) post less. Will at least one of these happen? Only time will tell ;-)

    1. Glad you liked it. Seems that I’m in the minority in all four categories. That’s a strange feeling.

  14. I was not surprised to find I am an “average” user of your wonderful site. However I actually missed the survey post as I have had visitors and no time to pick up. I think this is a brilliant site and especially appreciate the weekend hints when I get stuck! I shall look out for your next survey; please keep up the good work. Incidentally, I often learn new words, even at my advanced age!

  15. Further to Capt Lethargy’s comment earlier, with which I totally concur, and which sentiment often stops me posting a comment, would it be possible to have a facility which could be ticked to indicate that someone has looked at the blog on any particular day? Might well help with Mr K’s database as well.

    1. Interesting idea, Blackbaron, although it might feel a little like taking attendance :). We already knew from the statistics WordPress provides that several thousand people visit the site each day. I’d imagined that most of the non-commenters were just dropping in to get a missing answer, but what we learned from the survey is that a big chunk of that group are actually regular readers of the whole blog who value it enough to fill out a survey. Since they’re regulars the statistics probably don’t vary too much from day to day.

      I get that it’s hard to come up with an original comment, especially later in the day when others have had their say. But it’s really not necessary to be original in order to let the blog community know that you’re out there. If all else fails, early commenter X would probably enjoy seeing somebody posting later along the lines of “X already said it best. Thanks to …..”

    2. I think I misunderstood what you were suggesting. It’s a good idea, so my blog today will have a space for non-commenters to write in. A blank submission can count as a tick.

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