If you have had any experience taking online surveys, no doubt you’ve experienced a situation where you were unable to complete a survey. Whether at the beginning, middle, or even at the very end of a survey, you might have encountered a dreaded message that looks something like this:
Why is it that you can’t always complete online surveys and that they can suddenly ‘close’ when you’re in the middle of completing them? What’s the reasoning behind this all-too-common problem?
Virtually nothing online works 100% perfectly 100% of the time, and online surveys are no different. Whether a survey panel is experiencing technical problems with their website, their surveys software, or a particular survey, technical issues do happen.
If you are unlucky enough to be completing a survey when these technical errors occur, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do other than try to either re-take survey, or contact the survey provider to explain your difficulties and ask for at least partial compensation.
The itself survey has closed
This is also an unlucky situation where as you were completing the online survey, enough responses were collected and the researcher either manually ‘closed’ the survey, or the survey software automatically closed it off. There is typically no warning or notification that a survey is close to being filled when you start completing it (although a few select sites do share this information with their survey takers), so it can be difficult to determine whether the survey you just clicked on is 98% full or 5% full.
Your demographic bucket has been filled
Similar to the above, if enough people in the same demographic bucket that the researchers were looking for have submitted enough responses, you might get booted out of a survey, seemingly out of nowhere.
For instance, if a study is looking for an even, 50-50 split of males and females, and as a female, you get disqualified, the survey may still be available to men.
You’ve been disqualified
Disqualifications suck, especially with poorly designed surveys that ask qualification questions at the END of a survey, rather than at the beginning (this is a big no-no in market research and wastes everyone’s time). But even a well designed survey will ask a few qualifying questions, and if you don’t meet the criteria for the study, you will be prevented from completing it.
You triggered a block
Although most respondents (survey takers) are honest and are human, some are dishonest in their answers, and some are bots. These dishonest folk and bots muddy the data that researchers try to collect from online surveys, so measures are taken to block these types of users from completing studies. If you’re using form filling software while completing surveys, are using a VPN or other type of proxy, or are rushing along, providing low quality answers on a survey, you might suddenly be prevented from it.
If you’re not using any shady software and are providing thoughtful answers in your surveys and trigger an account block, reach out the survey panel as soon as you can in order to rectify the situation.
What to do when you can’t complete a survey
Sometimes the message you receive while you are trying to complete a survey (but are prevented from doing so), will indicate why you weren’t able to complete it. The message may say, ‘Sorry, this survey is now closed’, ‘Sorry, you do not qualify for this survey’, or ‘Sorry, this survey is no longer available’. Depending on the contents of the message, you might be able to figure out what happened when you got booted out.
What this can mean: As per above, either the survey has enough responses in total, or enough responses from your demographic.
What this can mean: Either you really did not meet the qualification criteria, or you might have been blocked.
What this can mean: this can mean anything; it could be a technical error, the survey could be closed, you might have been disqualified, or you may have even been blocked.
If a survey has closed or has enough responses, there’s not much you can do. For future surveys completions, if you’re able to determine when a survey first became available (you can check your email for instance to see when it was first sent out), be wary of surveys that have been available for more than a few days. It could mean that the survey is difficult to very qualify for, or could close at any time.
Dealing with disqualifications
If you get disqualified from a survey, check to see if the profile surveys in your survey panel account have been completed. If not, try completing them to see if your survey qualifications improve, or try signing up with survey sites that pay you if you get disqualified, so at least you’ll earn a bit of compensation for your time.
Disable potential browser conflicts
If you’re using any ad blocking software or form filling software, be sure to disable these when completing surveys. Although form filling software is great when first registering for a survey panel, it can cause problems when completing actual studies.
Be aware exhibiting desperation behavior
If you’re desperately trying to qualify for multiple surveys (ex. saying ‘yes’ to everything from being the market to a new car, to wanting to buy a new house, to drinking juice every day), or are trying to get through a tedious survey and are becoming inattentive, you may be flagged by a survey panel’s system as exhibiting ‘desperation behavior’. As a survey taker, it’s something to be a aware of. If you’re feeling frustrated taking surveys, take a break, or come back to it the next day.
Although most online surveys that you try completing will either allow you to complete them without issue (or will quickly disqualify you), you may still encounter situations where you’re unable to complete a survey for a seemingly unknown reason. Hopefully the points above provide some clarity on why you can experience such issues, why the arise, and what you can do about them.