[[{“fid”:”3129″,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fields”:{“format”:”media_original”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:””,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:””},”type”:”media”,”link_text”:null,”attributes”:{“style”:”height: 258px; width: 180px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;”,”class”:”media-element file-media-original”}}]]By Sylvia Stead, public editor for the Globe and Mail

I’ve had a few complaints about a recent survey of Globe and Mail readers’ views on federal politics asking if they believed Stephen Harper’s Canada is better, worse or unchanged.

So what’s good and what’s bad about this particular survey?

It’s good that readers are being engaged on what will be the political story of the year. The survey attracted 138,000 votes, so it’s obviously a topic of great interest.

What’s the bad? It’s not a “poll.” The headline on it says “poll,” but it is very far from a science-based opinion poll and it hurts the credibility of the real and important polls that news organizations publish, especially during the campaign period.

These things are, in the words of a tweet by Ipsos pollster John Wright, “mob audience feedback with no scientific backbone.”

While it attracted 138,000 votes, it is far from clear how many readers gave their views because people could vote multiple times, and often what happens with these questions (on many different topics such as politics or policy issues such as assisted dying), the surveys are taken over by interest groups whose members vote repeatedly and skew the numbers beyond recognition.

To continue reading this column, please go to theglobeandmail.com where it was originally published.