QIS: Miscellaneous Notes

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Survey Design

When creating this survey, I added the option to leave an email address (to be notified of the results) because when I ran the Romantic Ambivalence Survey, a few people did that unprompted. So I created a specific text box for that this time, even though I was uncertain if anyone would actually take the option. In fact, they did. Quite a few of them did.

One of the formatting choices I made for this survey was to separate out the multiple choice questions from the write-in options. Previously, in the Romantic Ambivalence Survey, I had allowed for write-in answers (Other: fill in the blank) on multiple choice questions. This easily made a mess of things when people wrote in slightly different versions of the same answer or wrote in entire sentences worth of reflection. So for the Quoi Identity Survey, I did not allow write-in answers on most multiple choice questions, and then I created separate write-in text boxes with general “Would you like to elaborate?” prompts for each section. I find this format works better for keeping the data tidy while still allowing respondents to put things in their own words. However, I figure this strategy still depends on having adequately broad and flexible options on your multiple choice questions to begin with.

In the feedback section, some respondents named suggestions for what else to investigate. For example, one respondent indicated that they would have liked to have a section on reporting negative experiences. This is something I can consider for a future iteration of the survey. Another respondent wondered how many quoi people are polyamorous, relationship anarchists, or “otherwise buck the expectations of amatonormativity in additional ways.” This is another thing I can consider for a future iteration of the survey.

A few respondents indicated that they would be interested in more definitions being provided up front. I respect this sentiment, but if there are future iterations of this survey, this suggestion is one I will decline. My goal with surveys like these is not to be instructive — it’s to take a measurement of what’s already going on. Including definitions could also present a problem if a respondent identifies with a term but not in the same way as I’ve defined it, leaving them to decide whether to avoid the answer option (because I’ve defined it too narrowly) or select it and thereby “let” themselves be misunderstood.

As the responses to this survey show, sometimes respondents have specific information they want to volunteer and are looking for the first opportunity to say it. For example:

  • One respondent wrote “Gay but not romantically or sexually” in a text box under the Romance section. There is a later section for nonromantic/nonsexual orientation types. In that section, as you would expect, this respondent did also select “Gay” once they got there.
  • Another respondent selected both “Bi/Pan” and “No, none of these” as answers to the same question. Logically, these answers would cancel each other out. In the section’s write-in text box, the respondent wrote, “I identify as queer,” which suggests that they might’ve been using “No, none of these” to mean “Something else not listed here.”
  • Another respondent wrote, “I identify with lesbian yes, but also other labels” despite selecting “No, none of these” instead of “Gay/Lesbian.”

I want to highlight responses like these because they’re illustrative of something that may be relevant for survey makers: sometimes, participants may come to a survey with something they already want to say, and they’ll be willing to bend your survey to say it. You should not bank on the expectation that no respondents will provide answers that seem contradictory.

I expected that at least some of the terminology used in this survey might be unfamiliar to respondents. For that reason, I created the “Which of these have you heard of before?” questions for quoi & comparable labels, offering a way for respondents to communicate “I don’t even know what this is.” Basically, I didn’t want people to get annoyed and frustrated if they thought the survey was expecting them to know these words. It’s not, and so it checks for that. All this to say, it was unexpected that a couple of respondents used the feedback section to thank me/the survey for teaching them new terms.

I was also surprised to see a self-described alloromantic allosexual fill out answers for the section on nonrom/nonsexual orientation types. The label they selected there is the same as the answers they gave for the romance and sexuality sections (Gay/Lesbian), and they indicated “It’s not a specific type,” so it’s unclear to what degree this identification should be interpreted similarly to tri-label aro aces.

With regard to various identity labels, some respondents added write-in commentary explaining that they didn’t really “identify” with the terms they had selected in answer to questions like “Which of these do you identify with?” This reflects a difference of perspective from my own outlook on identification as an act. It is also another reminder that no matter how you design your survey, people will do what they want.

One respondent left the feedback that “It’d be better if there were less… Binary focused things, I guess?” This might be in reference to the questions that asked about identification as Gay/Lesbian, Bi/Pan, Hetero, Unsure, or None of these. I included those questions because I know those are identities that people hold, so I wanted the option for respondents to say if they held them.

One respondent reported “The ‘how old are you?’ dropdown didn’t work for me for some reason.” We might not be able to know how many respondents were affected by technical errors like these.

Positive Testimonials

Among the surprising number of “thank you” responses in the feedback section, there were some that elaborated with thoughts on survey design. For example, one respondent wrote,

Thank you SO MUCH for having options that aren’t just yes or no to having nonsexual/nonromantic attraction as well as options for not picking a specific type to describe it. This is so frequently left out and often incredibly frustrating for me as a quoi person. I know this is like a quoi survey so I guess it would be expected to be more inclusive of this kind of thing, but really this is the first survey about aspec identities that hasn’t made me want to rip my hair out at the options available for questions about attraction outside of romantic or sexual so thank you.

This comment references common presumptions about nonrom/nonsexual attraction and how it might be conceptualized. Notably, the questions in this survey were about nonrom/nonsexual orienatations, not attraction (this survey has no attraction questions), but I gather that the Orientation Types section must’ve been what this person was referring to. In the past, I’ve talked about the presumption in ace & aro contexts that all orientations will be “axial,” or attached to a specific “type,” ex. -romantic, -sensual, and so on. I figure this response is illustrative of how those presumptions can impinge on people, including through survey design.

Here are some other longer write-in answers about the survey:

I really appreciate how carefully thought out this survey was worded/structured. For a survey centered around confusion with identity, a lot of thought was put in to clear up potential ambiguity while creating space for the answerer to be as specific or broad as they were comfortable. Going through this survey made me feel seen in a way I haven’t with other surveys relating to the aspec community.

I loved how ‘it’s complicated’, ‘both’, and ‘neither’ were options for many questions that normally just have yes/no. While I didn’t use them much, I can imagine people appreciating that. These identities are complicated, and getting information accurately in a multiple choice survey is hard because of the limitations.

Thank you for making this survey and for opening it up to those who might be outside the intended demographic! I had heard of quoi orientation before but had not previously considered how/if it might apply to me. It is good to not feel alone in my questioning regardless of whether this ends up being an identity label that I claim, and while I don’t ID with the aro label at present I really appreciate ace/aro communities in general for being a safe space to hold this uncertainty.

Quoi Identity Reflections

One respondent had this to say about connections with quoiromantic community:

I’m not interested to connect with people that are unsure or can’t tell the difference between stuff. My beliefs are kind of incompatible with their feelings. They compose the vast majority of the quoiromantic community at least (not so sure about the quoisexual and quoigender ones), so I’m not interested (still lurking on reddit though). I would be interested to read about experiences of people answer to epochryphal’s definition of quoi.

Interestingly enough, I know at least a couple people have felt not-quoi-enough or not-welcome-to-quoi for describing themselves more in terms of a “can’t tell” experience. I think that’s entirely fine; the only problem is with people seeing that as the only thing quoi can mean, as opposed to one particular way of relating to it. But in any case, I personally am one of those “actively disidentifying with the concept of romantic orientation” sorts of folks and am always interested to discuss more about that.

Another respondent had this to say about identifying as “alloromantic quoiromantic”:

i dont really identify with ‘alloromantic’ in and of itself, but i have called myself ‘alloromantic quoiromantic’ in a lot of discussions because i feel strongly about being at least towards that end of the spectrum in a community where (i feel like!) its assumed that youre closer to the aromantic end.

While I haven’t self-described that way myself, I can understand why someone would — and personally, I do experience romantic ambiguity as the kind of double-image that is equally possible to interpret as “romantic” as “nonromantic.” Sometimes it does feel like people like me would need to go out of our way to stave off the aro interpretation of that.

Other Interesting, Surprising, and Notable Responses

Under the Communities section, some respondents indicated different degrees of affiliation with “the LGBT community” based on the detail of the string (LGBT vs. LGBTQIA+) or based on who’s speaking. This is interesting because it’s something I wasn’t deliberately testing for, but multiple different people brought it up in the write-in box. Those interested in this issue might consider making it a more deliberate topic of inquiry in future surveys or discussion.

What counts as an “orientation”? That’s something I didn’t intend to set limitations on, but admittedly, I did have some things more than others in mind. One of the respondents pointed out that while they identify as nonamorous and polyaffectionate, they don’t think of those as orientations.

One respondent mentioned being put off nonbinary communities by… a problem I might call neolabel fatigue, although they didn’t describe it in those exact terms. Direct quote: “I’d like to be more involved in nonbinary communities but the emphasis on terminology, definitions and ‘there must be a precise word for every single human experience and we all must use it the same way’ exhausted me.”

An interesting thing to come out of this survey is seeing one respondent have a realization process over the course of taking the survey. At the start, this person did not check the “Quoiromantic” box, yet at the end, they wrote, “Oh shit! So that is what quoiromantic means. Just looked it up and that sure is a fit for me.”

One of the things to surprise me was that multiple respondents used the text boxes to bring up nonhumanity. I don’t have much to say about this, but it was certainly a recurring theme, even with this small a number of responses.

One respondent apologized for writing as much as they did in the text boxes. Folks: I assure you, if I didn’t want people using the text boxes, I would not have provided the text boxes. Another person wrote, “I feel bad for whoever is reading these answers because all mine are so vague and unknown,” and to them I would also say, please don’t feel bad about that. That’s entirely the sort of thing this survey is looking to investigate.

One respondent wrote “God, who even am I?” and…. Well, I can’t answer that one.

Shoutout to the respondent who used a textbox to simply write “girls good.”

Shoutout to the respondent who used the feedback section to write “Hi :)”

Shoutout to the respondent who used the feedback section to leave me a picture of a donkey.

Shoutout to the respondent whose write-in answer included the line “I hope you guys are having fun over there.” Thank you; we are.

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7 responses to “QIS: Miscellaneous Notes

  • GreyWanders

    This is great, people’s write-ins are so interesting! That’s also an extremely good-looking donkey.

  • thenewbuzwuzz

    “One of the things to surprise me was that multiple respondents used the text boxes to bring up nonhumanity. I don’t have much to say about this, but it was certainly a recurring theme, even with this small a number of responses.”
    Oh, I think that might be because we linked the survey in r/voidpunk. The subreddit description says, “Voidpunk is a subculture for those who have been dehumanized to reclaim their dehumanization. Many are told that all humans experience romantic and/or sexual attraction, are binary cisgender, are neurotypical, etc. This subculture is for those who don’t match that criteria of humanity and don’t want to match it.” Some people there did seem to vibe with quoi labels (sometimes to their own surprise, based on the comments).

    • Coyote

      Mm, you would think, but I’ve generally seen voidpunk as more of a symbolic gesture compared to the way some of these folks were talking, and it doesn’t look like all of those respondents came from Reddit.

      • epochryphal

        Huh, it doesn’t surprise me at all that there was a sizeable nonhuman contingent. On Tumblr I still get follows from non-/alterhuman blogs and quoi-focused blogs despite being largely inactive, and the overlap has always seemed sizeable to me. There’s the being in similar circles (people like me writing about experiences and engaging in word-coining in both facets, and following each other); there’s the autistic intersection and the argument that once you’ve become outsider enough it’s increasingly easy to de-conform in other areas; and there’s the thought frameworks/orientations of interrogating some societal axioms and how we understand and describe our feelings, thoughts, and experiences.

        I think there is indeed something about seeing the energy investment into othered, marginalized, and dehumanized folks reclaiming humanity, romance, sexuality, and gender, and wanting an alternative (whether unable or unwilling to expend that energy, or something else). Like the way aros & aces often polarize around either reclaiming “yes, I’m human and I can love and not want sex” / “yes, I’m human and I can have sex and not love” / “yes, I’m human and I can love without romance or sex” or proclaiming “fine then, I’m a robot. I will make my own robot community.” It isn’t a real binary, but it’s polarized reactions.

        (Insert unfinished thoughts about parallels with reclaiming/reconstruction of religious/spiritual tradition versus proclaiming a new one, and how drawing-from or oppositional said new one attempts to be, and the tensions between different orientations. And the complexities of creating Communal New Ones, whether “new religions” or “revivals” or younger otherwise. And arguments about charismatic leader cult of personality versus “well we did have this one guy become the poster child, but that’s mostly a media infrastructure issue, and we are bigger than that” – be that David Jay or Lucien Greaves.)

        • Coyote

          Oh hey Cor!

          I have my own reasons to be skeptical/disillusioned with “voidpunk” specifically, but I do think there’s more to be said about the alterhuman connection more generally. If you see any relevant posts about that, let me know.

  • ettina

    I think that’s a donkey/zebra hybrid (zeedonk). Notice the striped legs? I suppose that’s a very fitting animal for a survey on people who don’t easily fit into existing categories.

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