Is SurveyMonkey Anonymous?

People who complete surveys of SurveyMonkey often ask whether their survey responses are truly anonymous or not. One of the reasons this question arises today is that people are becoming less confident about survey tools out there on the market. SurveyMonkey is a leader in this space with more than 20 years of presence. But this question remains debatable among the people. Can it identify respondents? Can it track you down?

We've researched it, and the answer is that it's not entirely anonymous. Firstly, survey creators can collect your IP addresses along with your answers. And this is a feature that lets you lose your location privacy. This data could be easily used for deanonymization. Though this is entirely in the hands of the survey creators, by this choice, the respondents cannot be sure whether the survey creator is collecting IP addresses or not. Secondly, the data submitted by the respondent to the survey creator isn't truly anonymous. Meaning, the data could be seen by SurveyMonkey as well. This is primarily because of data stored without encryption. People have to trust that they wouldn't access their personal information blindly.

is surveymonkey anonymous

Rafael Pass was the first one to highlight that surveys aren't anonymous as people used to think in a Wired interview. His project Anonize was built to solve this problem. BlockSurvey followed a similar approach later using Blockchain in 2019. 

Are surveys supposed to be anonymous?

Yes, surveys should be anonymous by choice if you collect data that is deeply personal or sensitive. It is solely a way to do it. Providing anonymity during surveys will make the respondent feel respected. If implemented, it can be efficient listening tools all the time. 

What are the benefits of anonymous surveys?

  • Helps organizations gather true and honest feedback. 
  • Helps people to share feedback without being judgemental or worrying about retribution.
  • Helps to get candid responses that can help you make better choices and decisions. It improves response rates.
  • Helps to build trust by valuing privacy.

Are anonymous surveys really anonymous?

Just submitted an employee survey I hope it was anonymous cuz ima be gettting a call from hr real soon if not :(β€” KIANAJ🐐 (@pure_jadore) August 17, 2020 

Company employee surveys are a waste of time - people don't answer honestly out of fear even when they say it's anonymous :(β€” GamerForLife πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ PS5 is in da house :) (@Chuckforevver) September 25, 2012 

so i had to take a survey and it gave the option for what gender for me to select and it had nonbinary but idk if it's anonymous so i just chose female.... i hate it here like yes thank you but you're putting me on the spot and it's singling me out :(β€” eden⁷ β™‘'s rae | ONEUS COMEBACK (@squishyhw) September 17, 2020 

Such reactions can be found commonly on Twitter and Reddit even today. Over the years, the survey tools have become as intrusive and invasive as any other digital platform. How many times have we heard surveys were used as a vehicle to identify disgruntled employees? Honestly, the tools aren't anonymous at all. Let's look in detail at why they are not. 

How to find out if a survey is anonymous

  • Check if the surveys are having any trackers. Browsers like Brave and extensions like Ghostery can help you identify if they are present are not. Below is a sample test was done on SurveyMonkey with IP address collection turned off. It clearly shows that there is meta-information being collected.  
trackers on surveymonkey

  • Look for simple URL's. Watch the URL for additional data. Usually, these could be tracking the source of distribution, your email id, your emp id. e.g., hxxps://xyz.com/survey/id?source=email&id=u453. Anything after the '?' is collecting additional information in a hidden way. 
  • If surveys are received in email, check if email tracking is enabled or not. 
  • Doesn't ask for personally identifiable information

How to create an anonymous survey

This very question led us to create BlockSurvey. We didn't see a platform that provides anonymity to the participants or to the data being collected. BlockSurvey helps in creating truly anonymous surveys. We don't provide IP address collection or run any trackers. You are in full control of your data, and you truly own it using your keys. This is possible because of the decentralized tech called Blockchain. It uses Stacks blockchain for enabling this anonymity and security. 

5 steps to create an anonymous survey 

  • Use the right platform. Only you should have access to the data. Not the platform provider or anyone else. 
  • Don't use any tracking scripts, IP address collection, or hidden variables. 
  • Don't ask for personally identifiable or demographic information. 
  • Ensure your sample size is large so that anonymity is maintained. 
  • Use QR codes for distribution and encourage the audience to answer from their own device

Call to action

The real adoption of anonymous surveys would occur when people seek it and question the status quo on existing platforms today and care about the respondents' privacy and anonymity. If you are looking for a anonymous survey tool, give BlockSurvey a try. Sign up below.