Data Security & Safety
Results, data formats
How does Anonymous Feedback compare to the competition?
|Check the directory web-based-surveys.com. It lists more than 200 vendors for web-based surveys, searchable by features and with a cost estimating tool.
|We are at the lower end of the price range, but offer more features than the average vendor. Also, we believe that our flexibility regarding customization and additional services is above average.|
How safe and secure are my data?
|When respondents fill in questionnaires or administrators set up questionnaires, we secure the data with high-grade encryption (128 bit) as they travel over the internet. This makes it quite unlikely that anybody intercepts the data on their way between the client computer and the server.
|Our dedicated server is hosted by Hetzner Online AG in Nürnberg. Only two people, Rainer Typke and Christian Wicke, know the root password of the server and therefore have access to your data. No Hetzner employee knows the root password.
|You can delete your data at any time (if you are using the self-service option) or ask us to delete them on your behalf (if you are using the full-service option).
|We regularly create backups of the database, so your data are not only secure but also safe. Every 10 minutes, we update the backup (using a strongly encrypted secure shell connection) if the database has changed. The backup is stored on a different server, so even if the main server is completely destroyed, you won't lose more than a few minutes' worth of response data.|
Is the server physically safe?
To give you an impression of the conditions under which we store your data, we have collected some pictures of the servers and security measures of our hoster, Hetzner Online AG Nürnberg.
How anonymous are respondents really?
|We store all information that respondents give to us. Besides the information entered in questionnaires, this is also the time when responses are entered and the IP address from which the respondents work. It would not make too much sense to not store this information - this would not increase the respondents' trust in their anonymity because there is no way for them to tell whether we track their IP addresses or not.|
If respondents are paranoid, they can use one of the many publicly available "Anonymizers" that hide their real IP address when they are browsing the web.
Therefore, the only reliable information we have about respondents is what they decide to tell us themselves.
|If you are a "full service" customer, you can opt for raw data not being available to you. In this case, you will only have access to the aggregated data in the PDF reports, which further protects the anonymity of your respondents.|
If they are so anonymous, how can we make sure that single respondents don't skew the results by entering their opinion multiple times?
For many types of surveys, this is not a problem. In order to manipulate the results, people would have to fill in questionnaires multiple times, from different IP addresses, at different times, and enter sufficiently different, but still similar opinions so that their attempt to skew results cannot easily be spotted. Also, their responses would have to be extreme so that they really have an impact, and not too extreme because otherwise they would be obviously fake.
However, one has to take this possibility into consideration.
|If you think that security against this kind of manipulation is worth some extra effort, you can use the "respondent password" option. With a few mouse clicks, you can generate the desired number of passwords, which you can then download as a text file, print on separate pieces of paper, and distribute to your respondents by letting them each pick one from an urn. Only with one of these passwords, a questionnaire can be filled in, and only one per password.
|Even if you don't use respondent passwords, the system still supports you with detecting manipulation by making it easy to spot questionable answers, which can then be deleted. The first line of defense against manipulation is the logged IP address and time of submission. But at least the IP address is not always useful since respondents could use anonymizers to hide their real address. Also, if many respondents belong to the same organization, they sometimes use the same web proxy, and as a result, appear to all have the same IP address.
|The default raw report, which shows all answers of one respondent in each line, is sorted by similarity. This can help you spot suspiciously similar responses - those would be in subsequent lines of the report.|
How safe is the server from viruses?
The server runs under Linux. Therefore, no viruses and worms that target Windows systems, which is the overwhelming majority of them, will be able to run on our server.
How reliable is the server software?
We use mature open source software:
|The server operating system is the "stable" version of Debian Linux.
|Data are maintained with a MySQL database.
|PDF Reports are generated with LaTeX.
|This website is managed with Typo3.
|Spell checking is done with ISpell.|
The extensive use of open source software means that our system is not only stable and reliable. It also helps us keep our prices attractive. All revenues are used to serve you and improve the system for you. No part of our revenues goes to Redmond, Washington.
How are surveys set up and deployed?
The process for full service surveys is:
|You send us a draft version of your questionnaire (as plain text file, in Word format, as Excel file or similar).
|We put your questionnaire online.
|You can review the online questionnaire.
|If necessary, we make adjustments.
|We provide you with a link for answering the survey. You distribute this link to your respondents.
|During and after the answering period, you can track answers and request reports (PDF files with graphs, optionally also raw data in CSV format) at any time. For this, you need to log in here. Creating a report takes just a few seconds. Log in as user "demo", password "demo" to see how this works.|
Your survey can be open for answering within two or three days after our first contact, depending on the complexity and size of your questionnaire.
For Do-It-Yourself surveys, you can set up surveys and start collecting responses immediately after registering. The web pages where you can generate reports and download raw data will become accessible immediately after we have received your subscription fee.
How do I find out about the results?
You can download PDF reports with graphs and, optionally, raw reports in the CSV format at any time while your survey is running and when it is finished. To try this immediately, log in as user "demo" with the password "demo" and go to the pages titled "Create PDF Reports" and "Create Raw Reports".
What kind of data do I get as a result? What are the data formats?
At any time, you can generate PDF reports showing responses from a selected range of dates with bar diagrams, averages, median, standard error, and all textual responses. Optionally, you can also get raw data in the CSV format. Because these data threaten the anonymity of respondents, you can opt for them not being available to you if you choose the "full service" option. The raw data are always available for "self service" customers.
You can check this out right now by logging in as user "demo" with the password "demo". After logging in, you can generate PDF and CSV reports.
Why are the records of my raw report in such a peculiar order?
If you choose the raw report data format with the complete contents of one questionnaire in each line, the resulting report will be sorted by similarity. Currently, we base this on all answers to questions where a number is selected from a scale. All numbers from one questionnaire are put into a vector that represents one response, and similarity is measured with the Euclidean distances between those vectors.
As a result, you should expect similar responses to end up in subsequent lines. This can be helpful for spotting attempts of respondents to give their opinion more weight by filling in multiple questionnaires.
Can I import the data into Microsoft Excel?
Yes, raw data in the CSV format can be imported into Excel. This works without any problems. Try it by logging in as user "demo" with the password "demo" and generating a raw report.
Why did the number of responses go down for a day in the past although I did not delete any response?
If one of your respondents associated a password with his response and decided to edit it one or more days after first entering it, it is no longer included in the response count for the date of its creation, but for the day when it was last modified.
The reasoning behind this is that you should see that something happened on the day when the response was edited (so something should change in the tracking window), but the response should not be counted twice.
What are the system requirements for Anonymous Feedback customers?
To set up surveys and track responses, you will need:
|For reading and printing PDF reports, you can use Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free of charge for almost all relevant platforms (e. g., Windows, Linux, Macintosh).
|To use the CSV data, it is useful to have software such as Microsoft Excel or SPSS.|
What are the system requirements for respondents?
For survey respondents, the requirements are just:
|An internet connection and
Are there any limits for the number of questions, surveys, responses, reports etc.?
|For the Full Service option, the answer to this question is: as long as you don't have thousands of respondents, you don't need to worry about any limits.
|For Self Service customers, the most important limit is that only one survey can be open for answering at a time. If you need another survey to be answered at the same time, just open another account. Otherwise, we don't impose any limits other than those given by the server capacity, which has not been a problem in the past years.|
How much does this service cost?
|For Full Service surveys, cost depends on what you want us to do. We could just set up the questionnaire for you and provide you with standard reports and raw data. Then the price only depends on the size and complexity of your questionnaire and will be something around 150 Euros for reasonably simple questionnaires. You might also want us to provide you with customized reports, set up automatically recurring report generation and reminder e-mails, or similar things. Please contact us for a quote.
|For the Do-It-Yourself option, there is simply a subscription fee of 29 Euros per month or 88 Euros per year (plus VAT for EU customers).|