Funny Forms response

Recently a colleague saw something strange in the Forms survey she was running: she had 5 potential answers, but the results showed 6, including one “Other”. What had happened here?

Let me show you with some screenshots.

I created a survey. By the way, does anyone know the mechanism of that lightning symbol that sometimes shows up at the Theme-button, providing you with a number of additional images? Sometimes it is there, sometimes it is not. Most confusing!

So, this is the Form I created.

The form, 5 answer options, shown randomly

I added some results until it looked like this:

The results so far

Then I did something and then the results showed 6 answer options, including “Other”. It also changed to a bar graph instead of a pie.

Suddenly an extra option appears

Do you notice what I did? I changed “Text message” into “Text”. This means that my earlier entry is a different entry than the current choice options, so it is “Other”.

Any new entries after the change will be added to the new option:

New entries will be added to the new option

Conclusion

If you see an unexpected “Other” option in your survey responses, remember if you have changed one or more of the options during the survey.

How to remediate?

You can go back to “Text message” but if your survey is already live, you may have received entries with “Text” in the mean time and that will mean that those will now be in “Other”, so that does not really help.

Entries with the new option will be “Other” when you change back to the original wording

Fortunately, the Excel file will give you the exact responses, old and new.

Old and new responses

How to prevent?

Of course, prevention is better than fixing, so I always advise my colleagues to:

1. Ask colleagues to review before going live

Ask one or two others to review any survey before it is made live. A fresh pair of eyes can help a great deal in removing any overlooked typos, weird questions or answer options, or formatting mistakes. Additionally, Forms mentions the average time to complete the survey, and this may help you to “sell” participation – “it only takes 2 minutes”.

2. Remove any test data before going live

Have you or your reviewers completed the survey while checking? Make sure you remove these responses before you go live, especially when you have corrected anything during the review. This way you will start with a fresh survey.

Hope this is helpful!

2 thoughts on “Funny Forms response

  1. curtica December 19, 2021 / 3:01 pm

    Ellen, can’t recall where I found this, but someone posted that there are specific words that enable the theme option. The list of words that generate theme ideas are: testing, request, list, music, dance, preview, brand, lunch, satisfaction, suggestions, update, questionnaire, order, quiz, plan, school, sale, education, company, business, voting, car, student, travel, buy, agreement, college, party, festival, and meal.

    • Ellen van Aken December 19, 2021 / 3:19 pm

      Oh, that’s how it works! Thank you – I thought it was completely random. Or depending on current bandwith or something. Helpful info!

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