|By Tim Sayles|
hyperbole, I'll say this: Democracy has come at last to the Best of the
Bay reader survey. Said survey, as you may well know, is our annual
effort to quantify all the splendid things that, when you add them up,
equal "Chesapeake Bay." The best crabhouses, the best marinas, the best
anchorages, the best crab-flavored soft ice cream. I'm kidding with
that last one . . . but, wait, maybe there's something to it. How about
Old Bay flavored ice cream? No, never mind. I'm being told that
somebody has already tried that.
I'm also being told I've
drifted off topic. So, anyway, have you ever wondered whom we actually
survey in the Best of the Bay survey? More to the point, have you
wondered why you, a faithful reader for lo these many years, have never
been asked to cast a vote foryourfavorite marina or anchorage or crab-flavored ice cream? Perhaps you
have been asked--but more likely not, or at least not often, because
computer-generated randomness is very . . . well, very random. And
until now, (he says, casting a titillating bit of foreshadowing) random
selection has been the name of the game. We mail outa lotof surveys, mind you--usually 5,000--but that's really only about 13
percent of our readership. That is, for every one reader who gets the
survey in the mail, there are seven of you who don't--7.7 of you, to be
exact, though I've always resisted the idea of fractions of readers.
I'm happy to say, ends now. No, not the idea of fractions of readers;
that will be with us as long as there are statisticians. I mean the
random selection thing.Thatends now. Beginning this year--indeed with this very writing--we inviteallour readers to participate in the Best of the Bay survey. Did I say
"invite"? I meant "urge"--even, I dare say, "strongly urge." If it
helps, imagine me pulling at your sleeve and giving you an imploring
look. Yes, you there, you with the sleeve, I implore you. Why? Because
this a fascinating and important experiment.
updating our survey method--going paperless, that is--for some years
now. But our worries about diminished response have always, in the end,
outweighed our enthusiasm for the new and presumably cheaper method.
Now, though, we think most people have gotten comfortable enough with
the web that conducting the survey online might actually increase the
response, not diminish it--especially if, as a backup, we include a
print version of the survey in the magazine [see page 21], giving the
traditionalists a way to participate as well.
You can prove us
woefully wrong here by ignoring this and going about your business
(say, reading the rest of this issue, if I might suggest it).
Contrarily, you can prove us wise and fabulously prescient by going in
great numbers to our website,ChesapeakeBoating.net,
clicking on the "Best of the Bay" link, and taking the survey--or by
filling out the print version on page 21 and mailing it to us by March
I'm no statistician, but I think it's safe to say that 100
percent of you will do one of those two things. Or was it three things?
Whatever. I predict that you'll either take the survey or you won't. My
mama always said I was good with numbers.