FOSSMEC’s need for a survey
Previously at FOSSMEC meeting, we decided to conduct a survey among students of MEC which would help us better categorize them into different subgroups based on their skill set for further set of activities planned by us.
Inspired from asknot, a tool to help newbies get started in contributing towards Mozilla’s projects, Jithin James wanted to make something like that, so as to automate the whole process of redirecting students to different study groups, slack channels, etc. Joel, pointing out the implementation difficulties, and an ample amount of time that could have been wasted, instead suggested Typeform.
Then, why attempting such an asinine task?
Well, little did we knew that using logic jumps in Typeform was a paid feature. What next? So, I started on my quest to find a free and open source alternative to Typeform. And after half a day of researching, I did find a few but none of them solved our problem. Some limited form responses to 100 or so (like Enalyzer) and other completely free and open source alternatives like tellform couldn’t be used efficiently because it still needed a lot of features and improvement.
That’s when we finally decided to go with the plain old Google forms.
So, with no options whatsoever to use a logic jump feature in our forms, Joel quickly made a subjective form asking students some descriptive questions about their skills and experience. But we feared that such a form could be intimidating for beginners and in fact would end up worsening their self-confidence if they didn’t had any thing good to write about.
I personally wanted the form to be a bit beginner friendly involving only the traditional yes/no type questions. Thus, I decided to make the form on my own. That’s when I found out that even Google forms had a logic jump feature.
I guess not many people know about it or may be it’s just that nobody is an absolute madlad like me to even attempt to do such a thing. We could have simply rolled out the form made by Joel and saved all the headache, but no, I wouldn’t listen.
I quickly made a rough tree-like structure depicting the logic of the form and posted it in our FOSSMEC discussion group asking for everyone’s approval.
Everyone replied with a LGTM (Looks Good To Me)👍 and I went ahead with the making of the form. However, I never knew that it would take so long. I started somewhere around noon and took me whole evening to complete it. And the next day was spent to make sure the form was free of typos, grammatical errors and logical redirections worked perfectly.
Structure of the form
Initially, it would ask students about their interests/expertise and accordingly take them to the respective sections. Further these sections had different subsections based on their level of experience in their chosen fields. Say students chose ML/AI as their field of interest, which further took them to subsections based on whether they were a beginner or have some prior experience or are an expert. If they are a complete beginner, we helped them with resources to get started with, and if they had some prior experience, we asked them about their expertise and encouraged them to get started with open source contributions, etc.
We also had to consider the versatile people who had multiple interests. So, I kept a different section for them in which after they where done with one of their interests, it would redirect them to initial section so that they could pursue multiple interests if they wanted to.
So what about the skeptic people who have no clue which field to choose. I got ‘em too. I made a help section for them, which was mentioned along with other interests in the initial section. It took them through a series of self-introspective questions which helped them pick a field.
And to compensate the lack of UI/UX experience, I had to make the form with a ton of puns and jokes so that students didn’t get bored midway through the form.
Alas, when everything was over the section count was 49 😳.
Even though, the form is 49 section long the user doesn’t have to go through all of ‘em, that’s where logical jumps come into play. The user could directly end up on the feedback section of the form if he had some interests/expertise which wasn’t mentioned (of course, we couldn’t cover all possible fields, otherwise it would have been a never ending form).
I did receive a lot of appreciation for doing such a feat. Although, some didn’t like the form being too long and complex. But it had to be ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Edited to add: I’ve made a copy of the form and decided to make it available for public reference. Do try to fill it out if you’re interested. Link to form.
TL;DR : Just another bs written by some bs guy, which probably isn’t of any interest to you.