How to make an email survey to identify people in a photo?
February 3, 2013 3:39 PM   Subscribe

I have a good scan of the group photo from my grandparents wedding. I know who several of the people are in the photo, and I know that all my grandmother's eight brothers are in the group, but I do not know which brother is which. My Dad has made his best guesses, but he's not sure about many of them. I have recently made contact with several second cousins in the family while doing my genealogical research, so I thought I could get each of them to give me their best guesses in some sort of online survey, and compile the answers to get a sort of family crowd-sourced opinion. But how best to do this?

In my head, this would take the form of making a survey somewhere like There would be a question for each person in the photo where the answer is in the form of a) "I am certain this person is [fill in the blank with a name]" or b) "I think this person might be [fill in the blank with a name]" or c) "I do not know who this person is". However, it seems like surveymonkey won't be a good fit for this, as the free membership limits me to ten questions per survey, and the paid membership is $17 a month for a year, which is way too high for my needs.

Most of the people I want to send this to are not the most experienced internet users, so I want to keep it simple for them to use. I am also worried that it could be too onerous a task if there's a question for each person in the photo. Maybe it would be great if they could click on a hotspot over each person on the photo and enter their guess, along with whether they are sure or guessing. I could just email a copy of the photo and ask them to write down all the answers, but based on previous experience, correctly matching which person we think we are both talking about is error prone, since group photos don't delineate rows perfectly. Also would be cool if it was a link they could email onto other family members they think could help.

So, is there a better way to do this, or a better survey site to use? I don't mind paying a small fee to do this well, but a monthly fee with a year contract is overkill. I have no programming experience, so making something myself is impractical.
posted by Joh to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're dealing with folks that aren't familiar with the net, I would tend towards sending a paper copy, with each person numbered, and a form for input...and include a self addressed, stamped envelope.

(but, if you go with survey monkey, you can cancel at anytime, you're not locked into a year).
posted by HuronBob at 3:54 PM on February 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can make a form on Google Docs and embed it into a website that has the picture on it.
posted by hoyland at 3:57 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I also recommend using google docs.
Make a version of the picture that has each face labeled with a number.

The form could look like this:
1. I think Person 1 is ________ [drop down of possible names]
I'm ______ certain [not certain/positively certain]
Person 1 could also be ________ [free text field]

Then you can see what percentage of respondents thought Person 1 was each possibility.
posted by bleep at 4:06 PM on February 3, 2013

Best answer: Besides a slot they can fill with a name, perhaps let them rate their answer on, say, a 1 to 5 scale for how sure they are that they have the right name.

Also, do NOT let people see other people's guesses until after you collate your data, so confirmation bias doesn't skew the answers. Maybe on a second round you can pass out "50% of the answers say #3 from the left is Uncle Joe, 20% say Uncle Bill" followups.
posted by easily confused at 4:08 PM on February 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks! I'll have to look into Google Docs, I hadn't thought of using it that way. HuronBob, I have made contact with all the family members online, and I don't know their actual physical addresses, other than which country they live in. They are capable of using email well enough, but I'm not sure beyond that.
posted by Joh at 5:55 PM on February 3, 2013

If they're on Facebook you could ask them to tag people in the photo - or is that too complex?
posted by leslies at 6:08 PM on February 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. In the end I made a page with the wedding photo, plus several cropped/zoomed chunks of the photo, splitting everyone into groups. Then I labelled each person with a letter of the alphabet. I embedded google forms into the page, one for each group photo. The results of each form get piped to another google document that collects them. It works OK, although it feels really clunky. I do wish there was a way to get an automated email notification when someone fills out a form, so I can go and check the new results. It was a fun little project though!
posted by Joh at 9:36 PM on February 9, 2013

You can get email notifications. Go into the spreadsheet and under Tools go to Notification Settings. Under "Notify me when" click "A user submits a form".
posted by bleep at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2013

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