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Chad Wars II: Market researcher yanks BSD from Linux poll

So write-in ballots are invalid?

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For the second time in recent US history, voters have had their ballot papers discarded as invalid. This time it's the BSD community who are mourning their hanging chads.

We were really rather delighted to see that in Evans Data survey of Linux web developers that we wrote about, yesterday, so many respondents insisted on listing BSD as their development platform of choice. Even though the question was specifically about Linux.

That suggested to us that BSD developers were effecting the kind of write-in response that sometimes happens in US elections, when voters aren't happy with the choices on the ballot paper.

(Although we can't be sure of that, not having seen the original questionnaire, which might well indeed have listed the BSDs as an option.)

But we may be guilty of giving the market researcher the benefit of the doubt. Evans Data last night removed the FreeBSD responses from the list, explaining:-

"It has been brought to our attention that FreeBSD is not a Linux distribution. The data was revised to exclude FreeBSD, and the numbers above reflect the corrections. We apologize for the mistake."

So now the BSDs have been airbrushed from the list entirely.

Tell us if we're wrong, but we suspect most BSD users would rather have seen it in the list. Even if it's a Linux list. It's a reminder that BSDs run some of the world's biggest sites such as Yahoo!.

And furthermore, isn't one of the basic duties of market researchers to report the responses accurately? If respondents decide to include the answer 'chimpanzee' to the question 'favourite fish', then so be it. That ought to be reported. Not for the first time, market researchers have been caught underestimating the intelligence of their market, and it casts a doubt over the trustworthiness of the rest of the data.

Of course if Evans Data had followed our example, and used our blanket term software libre to encompass the two in its original questionnaire (and you probably have your own catch-all term), this silliness would never have happened ®

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