Today, I learned all about bots....

A couple weeks ago, I had posted on Elpha and a few other trusted networks a survey to understand the challenges of female founders (thank you to the many of you who filled it out!). I was using it as a way to validate my hypothesis and understand my market a bit better. And the responses I was getting were very very insightful, but there weren't many. In two weeks, I had gotten less than 30 responses, but I hadn't promoted my survey properly and became busy at work to concentrate on my market research (this is a side project for now, after all). Then, overnight on Friday, I went from my 20 odd responses to over 2,500! I was so excited! The only thing that changed was a colleague of mine had posted the link on her LinkedIn as well, and a couple of people from the forums I had posted on had filled the survey. I thought that someone with a large network shared it with their twitter or social media and I was just thrilled!! I didn't get a chance to look through the responses last night, but today, I took some time and really concentrate on the over 3000 responses I had gotten in at that point. It became apparent VERY quickly that these responses were from bots. There were A LOT of duplicates. A lot of "NAs" and "No"s. I was able to dwindle the answers down to about 220, but even then, I have been reading each and every answer so carefully to identify whether or not they were legitimate. It is so hard to tell! These bots are so advanced and are actually answering the questions for the most part. Some are easy to parse out but others you have to concentrate on so much. At this point, I am only going to look at the original set of answers I had received until Friday. I have spent 5 hours looks through and deciphering the questionable answers and I don't think it's worth it. It's so frustrating, because some of these answers really do shed light on ideas I hadn't thought about. But I cant hold them to their validity so I have to discard them. Thought I'd share my experience. Beware of where you share links!
Thanks so much for sharing this, @Sanaiq. I have just written a survey to validate (or invalidate) some of my own hypotheses related to an idea I'm cultivating and hadn't yet socialized it broadly. I had no idea survey bots were a possibility.
There is a big issue around survey-taking bots that intentionally try to sway public opinion.
That sounds so frustrating! It would be more work, but an idea would be to create duplicate surveys that all have different links to post on different social media sites. That way, if one is plagued by bots more than another, it would be easier to separate out those responses.