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Discussion: YAwriters Demographic Survey Results
Over the course of several months last year, we asked you to take part in a demographic survey. We were curious because of a similar survey conducted at /writing and wanted to:
Make sure we were repping/serving the community that's actually here.
See whether the demos of the subs were the same or radically different.
This data was taken in Spring of 2014 and represents a snapshot of that particular time. Our sub has grown a bit, though it's reasonable to assume that the userbase hasn't changed radically. /writing currently has over 141,000 users, and we're just shy of 2,500. Thanks to bethrevis for setting up the survey up and HUGE THANKS to smallfruitbat for crunching the data, which wasn't in the easiest format. She also made the lovely charts and graphs as well as a verbal walk through you'll see quoted throughout:
The 19-question survey had 176 respondents, giving a response rate >10% at the time of survey close. At that time, /YAwriters was capturing approximately 150 unique visitors a day and had a subscription base of ~1700. When side accounts are considered, this suggests that the survey grabbed information from lurkers as well as regular contributors...In comparison, an informal survey covering similar questions in the /writing subreddit captured 793 responses in a default subreddit with >100,000 users, a response rate <1%.
GENDER Overwhelmingly female. Just shy of 70% w/ less than 1% identifying as non-binary, genderqueer, or other. Meanwhile /writing was nearly 69% male at the time of survey. Fig. 2.
Pretty much exact opposites [to /writing]. Response rate 99% vs 98%.
We also, forgive us, asked about sexual orientation. [96% response rate.] We don't have corresponding data from /writing but believe they skew predominantly or at least more heterosexual. This is an educated guess however. Fig. 3.
We are 36% LGBA and "not exclusively heterosexual" people. Interestingly this is an over-representation of these numbers in the general population. AGE We failed to ask for exact ages, especially for comparing trends but asked for general age ranges similar to those in /writing. Figs. 4. and 5. "Response rate 100%." But we're definitely, on average, older.
You could make a case for better educated, too. More likely that the older members in YAwriters have graduated from high school and finished their degrees, however. Response rate 98% vs >99%. Fig. 6. The YAwriters survey broke post-graduate degrees down further… The “associate’s degree” label was used for anyone who indicated a 2-year degree or trade school certification…We also have at least 1 MD and 2 lawyers among respondents. Response rate 98%. Fig. 7. Another note about the education data: In terms of demographics, there is a huge difference between “still in college” and “attended college, but left without degree.” Since this was the second largest category, future surveys should differentiate between the two. “Did not complete high school” is another possibility… Multiple degrees and specialties were reported… Another way of looking at it. Amongst those who went to college, liberal arts degrees are common in this sub. Figs. 8. and 9.
ETHNIC BACKGROUND Apologies for asking such personal questions about race, gender and orientation but we felt it was necessary to make sure we’re serving folks the best and of course you were free not to answer. We also had an inkling that /YAwriters had a more diverse body of users than /writing. Here's what it looked like when those who had opted out were counted as their own category. Fig. 10.
[And a] recalculation that just treats "prefer not to answer" as "not part of the data set." I'm not quite that cynical. e.g. 20/100 prefer not to answer. Percentages are now recalculated from 80. 30% becomes 37.5%. Fig. 11. With all the write-in answers, these seemed to be the best categories. 74% response rate. Fig. 12. Another way of looking at it. Fig. 13. Notably, among users who answered this question, 22% of POC identified as biracial. Plotting both races didn't significantly change graphs though. 74% response rate for this graph.
We have noted that we didn't give both enough or nuanced enough options on these questions and people of multiple backgrounds may have felt too many/not enough options applied. We apologize and will seek to correct this on the next survey.
A note on methodology here: You may see some differences in percentages between different graphs, purportedly of the same data. For example, “biracial” with no additional information gets counted in “POC,” but not in graph 12. Answers like “Jewish,” “haole,” and “Irish” were combined as “white.” A surprising number of people answered “American,” “Californian,” etc. While I could calculate those entries as a weighted average of the demographics of those regions, or take the cynical route and assume they meant “white,” I lumped them into “prefer not to say” instead. California is 38% Hispanic, 36% White, 14% Asian, 7% Black, 2% Native American, btw. Yes, that’s more than 100%. A 2013 Pew Internet survey found that Hispanic internet users were 2-3 times more likely to use Reddit than white or black respondents. You can read the Pew report here: http://www.pewinternet.org/files/old-media/Files/Reports/2013/PIP_reddit_usage_2013.pdf
Users reported multiple types of publication history. Response rate 97%. Fig. 14
The caveat is that from the way the survey is worded, it's possible that fanfiction is getting counted as serialization. We'll seek to delineate this in a next addition.
Without a doubt, YAwriters users have shared their writing with a large audience. Fig. 15.
According to this chart, unpublished members should just keep writing, because they haven't caught up to the published folks yet. Fig. 16 Even as a write-in answer, “fun” was just as popular as “making money...” Fig. 17. The majority of respondents want a large press to pick up their WIP, but will consider self-publishing if that doesn't work out. Fig. 18.
There really wasn't an option suitable for enthusiastic people with a different career to focus on.
WORK HABITS Wordcount: Fig. 20. "98% response rate." Writing Frequency: Fig. 21. Outlining: Fig. 22. We recognize there's room for error in phrasing. Next time we'll endevour to include plotters and pantsers. "98% response rate." OPINIONS OF DIFFERENT PUBLISHING ROUTES
Large traditional presses were favored. Fig. 23. Here are the average ratings, converted to a 5 star system. HUGE error bars though. Fig. 24. No significant trend for ranking self-publication. Fig. 25.
Which is notable in that we might have assumed younger people would respond to it better. Nope.
People with graduate degrees rated self-publishing much higher than those in high school. Fig. 26
This would probably be a second surprise. Even though a lot of self-pubbers are very educated, one might wrongfully assume, older people with more degrees were more set on trad publishing. This doesn't appear to be the case. Note:
Again, huge error bars associated with all of these rankings, so no good conclusions can be drawn. I rather thought the self-pub vs. education trend would be opposite though.
TL;DR So there you have it. It's an informal survey and our user base has grown, but the cautious results seem to indicate that YAwriters skews more female than /writing. We also suspect we skew more more LGBTAQ and POC than /writing though would need that data set from them to be sure. We're definitely older, on balance have more education, and are more widely published though both subs have probably failed to get specific enough about what published means exactly.
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