Are Cognitive Daily readers slackers compared to Slashdotters?

Today's Slashdot poll covers some of the same territory as this week's Casual Fridays study. Their poll asks "How Many Hours Of Work Do You Do Per Workday?" We asked two questions that get at the same concept: How much time to you spend at work per day, and how much of that time do you spend doing non-work activities. So how do CogDaily readers compare to Slashdotters? Not very well (or very well, depending on your perspective):


It appears that Slashdot readers work much harder than CogDaily readers. Could that really be true? Or is it just an artifact of the way the question was asked? The comments section of the Slashdot article suggests that many readers interpreted the question to mean "how much time do you spend at work," not necessarily how much of that time was actually spent working.

So, it seems, the way you ask the question is often just as important is the question you ask. On the other hand, the two different poll results could represent real differences in CogDaily's readership versus Slashdot's. I don't think there's any way to reassess CogDaily readers without spoiling the results, though. Any other explanations of why there's such a dramatic difference in the two polls' findings?

More like this

Last week's Casual Fridays study was supposed to be about distractions and distractibility. Many of us struggle to keep our minds on work when the whole wide internet is available to entertain and inform us. So I wondered: Are people who are more easily distracted by the temptations of the internet…
I don't know what I expected to see when I posted yesterday's poll about people's work schedules, but I didn't expect to find this. With over 250 responses, fewer than half of our respondents said they work a standard 8-5 Monday-Friday schedule. It's possible that Cognitive Daily's readership isn't…
Last week's Casual Friday study focused on messes around the home. We identified eight common household messes, and then asked readers how annoying they were, and who cleaned up. An interesting thing happened: for the first time ever, we had significantly more female respondents than male…
You might have thought we'd have a new study for you to participate in this week. You're half right. If you've read CogDaily, Terra Sigillata, Uncertain Principles, or Chaotic Utopia in the past two weeks, you've actually been participating in today's non-scientific study. ScienceBloggers have a…

You essentially asked how many hours people spend doing work *at work*. They asked how many hours people spend doing work (presumably counting time both at home and at work). I don't know about most people, but I do a significant amount of work at home.

None of these questions make much sense without also asking how many hours an individual is contracted to work for. If someone works six hours in a day, it makes a huge difference whether they're contracted to a 4-hour or 8-hour day.

How do the results compare if you compare the Slashdot answers to the Cognitive Daily question about number of hours spent in work?


There's still a bit of a difference -- we didn't quite ask the same questions, and slashdot had some more "slackerish" answer options like "unemployed."

If you assume every slashdotter was answering the "how many hours do you spend at work" question it does seem that CogDaily readers might work more total hours than Slashdotters. Here's a graph comparing our "how many hours do you spend at work" with their responses.

Yet Slashdotters still are more likely to work over 8 hours in a day, while CogDaily readers are more likely to work less than 8 hours.

How clean a separation do you suppose there is between Cognitive Daily and Slashdot readers? I read both, myself. In the interests of precision, when you say "readers", I suppose you really mean "poll respondents".
For any of you feeling badly about being shown up by the Slashdot work ethic, I remind you of the standard Slashdot poll disclaimer:
"This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane."

By Urban Garlic (not verified) on 25 Jan 2009 #permalink

Maybe Slashdotters are just really big liars. ;)

First, you may have a fair number of students responding on Cognitive Daily.

Second, academics tend to blend work and non-work activities. We tend to be always working even when we're not working, and not working even when we're working. This is because we are given a lot of freedom and because many of us have our whole hearts invested in what we do. This is very different from someone who gets up and goes to work at 9, stays there even if there is no work to be done, leaves at 5, and doesn't think about work until the next morning.

You might consider my demographic -- not having a clue about what slashdot is really about, reading Cognitive Daily because I'm a retired lay science junkie looking for brain fodder... and, should I stop participating in the polls???

I wonder if the results would have been different if the questions had asked "How Many Hours Of Work Do You Do Per WorkWEEK?" I mainly work from the home office, and I tend to prefer shorter workdays. So I usually work 5-6 hours a day, 7 days a week.

By Danielle Rudder (not verified) on 26 Jan 2009 #permalink

I read both slash dot and cog daily and I work over 8 hours a day ... but then I'm British. Apparently one of the most most productive nations. Another variable??

IT workers consider reading /. to be work. Actually, all surfing is work, including reading news and looking at porn. Thus for the /.ers time at work = time on computer.

Slashdot has 100x as many posts/day as cognitive daily, so I'd say the extra 2-6 hours per workday is actually spent keeping up with it. If you removed the slashdot-reading, most IT people would probably only work about 5 hours a day.

By Funkopolis (not verified) on 28 Jan 2009 #permalink

I used to work in IT and I still read /. every day. Now I teach philosophy, so I also read this blog on most days. But I have to admit, I did not take either poll. My opinion is that I had to put in a lot more hours "at work" in IT, but I actually work more now because I do a lot of reading and writing at home that is work related. In IT when I went home I did non-work activities.

IT is said to attract a greater-than-average number of people who are a couple of notches toward autism. As such, perhaps IT types are a little more obsessive/compulsive about their work, end thus end up spending more time doing it? Also, IT folks are stereotyped as having weak social skills, thus spending less time BSing with co-workers.