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Updates: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; reruns all other days

Poll Results

All Previous Polls: 401-450

Poll 401: Which is better to be?

Total votes: 2952

Red: 2457 (83.2%)  
Dead: 495 (16.8%)


Poll 402: You have to take up a new hobby (one you don't already do!), and must choose one of these:

Total votes: 3852

Woodworking: 681 (17.7%)
Violin: 547 (14.2%)
Glassblowing: 524 (13.6%)
Bonsai: 390 (10.1%)
Calligraphy: 315 (8.2%)
Origami: 296 (7.7%)
Bridge: 238 (6.2%)
Genealogy: 186 (4.8%)
Cake decorating: 147 (3.8%)  
Birdwatching: 136 (3.5%)
Karaoke: 132 (3.4%)
Trainspotting: 96 (2.5%)
Leather tanning: 93 (2.4%)
Cross-stitch: 40 (1.0%)
Stamp collecting: 31 (0.8%)


Poll 403: And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

Total votes: 3660

Come to my arms my beamish boy!: 933 (25.5%)  
O frabjous day!: 614 (16.8%)
Snicker-snack!: 561 (15.3%)
'Twas brillig: 386 (10.5%)
Callooh! Callay!: 367 (10.0%)
Shun the frumious Bandersnatch!: 351 (9.6%)
Beware the Jubjub bird!: 280 (7.7%)
The mome raths outgrabe: 168 (4.6%)


Poll 404: mezzacotta is up and running! Does it meet your expectations?

Total votes: 3352

mezza- what?: 568 (16.9%)
I thought it would be something good, but meh.: 515 (15.4%)
It's somewhat entertaining, which is about what I expected.: 401 (12.0%)
I thought it would be lame, but I never expected it to be this lame.: 392 (11.7%)  
What a letdown! I was expecting something GOOD!: 382 (11.4%)
I thought it would be mediocre, and it is.: 307 (9.2%)
It's entertaining enough, but I thought it would be better.: 229 (6.8%)
It's moderately entertaining, which is better than I expected.: 179 (5.3%)
It's crap, just like I thought it would be.: 137 (4.1%)
I thought it would be lousy, but it's not quite that bad.: 91 (2.7%)
It exceeds them! It's awesome!: 60 (1.8%)
Yes, I thought it would be great, and it is!: 58 (1.7%)
I thought it would be lame... but it's fantastic!: 33 (1.0%)


Poll 405: How many weddings have you been to?

Total votes: 3322

4 to 5.: 634 (19.1%)
6 to 8.: 501 (15.1%)
One, someone else's.: 450 (13.5%)
Two.: 441 (13.3%)
Three.: 394 (11.9%)
None.: 285 (8.6%)
9 to 12.: 266 (8.0%)
13 to 20 or so.: 191 (5.7%)
20 to 30 or so.: 60 (1.8%)
Lots. I work some other job at weddings.: 45 (1.4%)  
30 to 50 or so.: 21 (0.6%)
Lots. I officiate at weddings.: 13 (0.4%)
One, my own.: 12 (0.4%)
More than 50.: 9 (0.3%)


Poll 406: My friends Andrew and Veronica are getting married! What should they name their first child?

Total votes: 3944

Death of Insanely Overpowered Fireballs: 627 (15.9%)  
Allosaurus: 618 (15.7%)
Cthulhu: 373 (9.5%)
Death of Inhaling Hatmaking Chemicals: 197 (5.0%)
Jane Goodall: 194 (4.9%)
Alvissa: 142 (3.6%)
Draak: 127 (3.2%)
Iki Piki: 108 (2.7%)
Mordekai: 106 (2.7%)
Terry: 105 (2.7%)
Erwin: 99 (2.5%)
Steve: 88 (2.2%)
Loren: 86 (2.2%)
Ishmael: 85 (2.2%)
North Dakota: 84 (2.1%)
Kyros: 72 (1.8%)
Ginny: 69 (1.7%)
Mercutio: 68 (1.7%)
Ophelia: 65 (1.6%)
Will: 64 (1.6%)
Paris: 63 (1.6%)
Ponsonby: 62 (1.6%)
Monty: 58 (1.5%)
Spanners: 57 (1.4%)
Head Death: 56 (1.4%)
Minnesota: 54 (1.4%)
Quercus: 51 (1.3%)
Wendy: 50 (1.3%)
Lambert: 39 (1.0%)
Serron: 38 (1.0%)
Long Tom: 23 (0.6%)
Dwalin: 16 (0.4%)


Poll 407: What is the most important issue in the upcoming US election?

Total votes: 3960

Nazi science: 885 (22.3%)
The writing quality of Harry Potter fan-fiction: 577 (14.6%)
Nigerian Finance Ministry schemes causing global economic instability: 409 (10.3%)  
Pirate slang: 372 (9.4%)
Imminent destruction of Earth by an asteroid: 350 (8.8%)
Disruption of the space-time continuum by the Large Hadron Collider: 350 (8.8%)
A secret cadre of yetis manipulating paranormal and Fortean events: 277 (7.0%)
Disruption of the space-time continuum by time travellers: 268 (6.8%)
Martian agents inside the government: 234 (5.9%)
Organlegging operations using time travellers as raw materials: 162 (4.1%)
Giant snakes running loose in Scotland: 76 (1.9%)


Poll 408: What's the weather like where you are right now?

Total votes: 3892

Cool and dry: 782 (20.1%)
Cold and dry: 578 (14.9%)
Cold and raining: 380 (9.8%)  
Cold and windy: 355 (9.1%)
Cool and windy: 344 (8.8%)
Cool and raining: 263 (6.8%)
Warm and dry: 235 (6.0%)
Cool and humid: 220 (5.7%)
Cold and humid: 203 (5.2%)
Snowing: 90 (2.3%)
Hot and dry: 85 (2.2%)
Warm and humid: 76 (2.0%)
Warm and windy: 72 (1.8%)
Foggy: 59 (1.5%)
Hot and humid: 53 (1.4%)
Seriously stormy: 23 (0.6%)
Hot and windy: 22 (0.6%)
Warm and raining: 22 (0.6%)
Hot and raining: 15 (0.4%)
Sleeting: 9 (0.2%)
Hailing: 6 (0.2%)


Poll 409: Cast your vote in the US election:

Total votes: 2625

The Allosaurus: 1144 (43.6%)  
Obama: 682 (26.0%)
Cthulhu: 633 (24.1%)
McCain: 166 (6.3%)

A surprisingly poor showing from Cthulhu, and the Allosaurus is swept to a second term!


Poll 410: Pick the first statement that describes your singing:

Total votes: 4437

Singing is my career and primary income source: 25 (0.6%)
I sing professionally, but as a secondary job: 45 (1.0%)
I sing in an amateur choir or band: 330 (7.4%)
I sing in church groups: 238 (5.4%)
I do karaoke sometimes: 327 (7.4%)
I sing along to the radio or other music, in public: 726 (16.4%)
I sing along with other people if there's an occasion for it: 798 (18.0%)  
I sing in the shower or other private place, without music: 320 (7.2%)
I sing along to music, but only in private: 1034 (23.3%)
I hum sometimes: 338 (7.6%)
I don't sing. Ever.: 256 (5.8%)


Poll 411: Who would win in a catfight?

Total votes: 4331

Schrödinger's cat: 1024 (23.6%)
Greebo: 729 (16.8%)
Catbert: 403 (9.3%)
Puss in Boots: 340 (7.9%)
The Cheshire Cat: 252 (5.8%)
Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer): 243 (5.6%)  
The Cat (from Red Dwarf): 223 (5.1%)
Macavity: 151 (3.5%)
Catwoman (Julie Newmar): 107 (2.5%)
Catwoman (Eartha Kitt): 102 (2.4%)
Felix the Cat: 100 (2.3%)
Garfield: 99 (2.3%)
Top Cat: 98 (2.3%)
The Cat in the Hat: 80 (1.8%)
Scratchy: 74 (1.7%)
Catwoman (Halle Berry): 65 (1.5%)
The Rum Tum Tugger: 65 (1.5%)
Tom (of Tom and Jerry): 62 (1.4%)
Azrael (from The Smurfs): 60 (1.4%)
The Great Rumpuscat: 34 (0.8%)
Sylvester: 20 (0.5%)


Poll 412: How often do you get up before sunrise?

Total votes: 2110

Very rarely: 463 (21.9%)
Every workday, and sometimes other days: 339 (16.1%)  
Sunrise? What's that?: 326 (15.5%)
Every now and then: 281 (13.3%)
Every workday: 221 (10.5%)
3 or 4 times a week: 149 (7.1%)
Once or twice a week: 132 (6.3%)
Every day: 101 (4.8%)
A few times a month: 98 (4.6%)

Clearly I shouldn't update poll questions just before I go to bed because I haven't changed the poll for too long. I left out such an obvious option that this poll generated probably more e-mails than any other poll question within the first 12 hours. I received about 40 messages from people pointing out that the time of sunrise changes so much where they live throughout the year that they basically get up before sunrise in the winter and after sunrise in the summer.

So to cover up this embarrasing oversight, I'm changing the poll again within 24 hours of posting it. :-)


Poll 413: How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Total votes: 4066

None: 35 (0.9%)
One: 264 (6.5%)
Two: 643 (15.8%)
Three: 801 (19.7%)  
Four: 616 (15.2%)
Five: 464 (11.4%)
Six: 332 (8.2%)
Seven: 203 (5.0%)
Eight: 151 (3.7%)
Nine: 73 (1.8%)
Ten: 116 (2.9%)
11-12: 154 (3.8%)
13-15: 92 (2.3%)
16-20: 55 (1.4%)
20-25: 23 (0.6%)
26-30: 9 (0.2%)
Over 30: 35 (0.9%)


Poll 414: If something is green it is:

Total votes: 3332

Good for you: 590 (17.7%)
St Patrick's Day food: 483 (14.5%)  
Unripe: 437 (13.1%)
Lime flavoured: 383 (11.5%)
Minty: 373 (11.2%)
Herby: 343 (10.3%)
Mouldy: 291 (8.7%)
Disgusting: 129 (3.9%)
Chicken flavoured: 123 (3.7%)
Raw: 107 (3.2%)
Sweet and juicy: 73 (2.2%)


Poll 415: When an alien tries to sell you a "hi-fi" system, what is it really offering?

Total votes: 3159

A highly trained fighting Allosaurus: 1074 (34.0%)  
High fidelity audio gear: 429 (13.6%)
A Hibachi grill, fission-powered: 389 (12.3%)
A high-fibre bowel-cleansing system: 321 (10.2%)
Its hibernating fiancee: 237 (7.5%)
A set of hierarchical fiducials: 142 (4.5%)
A hive full of fish: 131 (4.1%)
A hijack fiasco: 127 (4.0%)
Hieroglyphics designed for finance: 111 (3.5%)
Hibiscus from Fiji: 89 (2.8%)
A hilarious finger: 67 (2.1%)
Hiawatha's fire-making tools: 42 (1.3%)


Poll 416: How proficient are you at using chopsticks?

Total votes: 3870

I could use chopsticks before I could walk: 45 (1.2%)
Extremely; I use them more than knife and fork: 83 (2.1%)
Very good; I use them without a second thought: 727 (18.8%)
Reasonable; I can eat most things without embarrassment: 1049 (27.1%)  
I struggle to eat awkward stuff, but otherwise okay: 562 (14.5%)
I can fumble my way through a meal: 453 (11.7%)
I'll have a go, but usually call for a fork: 426 (11.0%)
If I don't get a fork, I'll starve: 238 (6.1%)
I've never used chopsticks: 287 (7.4%)


Poll 417: A bar room brawl breaks out involving the following people. Who wins?

Total votes: 3982

Bugs Bunny: 797 (20.0%)
Chuck Norris: 735 (18.5%)
Batman: 715 (18.0%)
The Terminator: 381 (9.6%)
Bruce Lee: 271 (6.8%)
Captain James Kirk: 242 (6.1%)
Indiana Jones: 234 (5.9%)
Buffy Summers: 226 (5.7%)
MacGyver: 221 (5.5%)
Xena, Warrior Princess: 137 (3.4%)  
Sydney Bristow: 23 (0.6%)


Poll 418: What's your poison?

Total votes: 3773

Iocane: 758 (20.1%)
Cyanide: 596 (15.8%)
Hemlock: 478 (12.7%)
Mercury: 379 (10.0%)
Arsenic: 354 (9.4%)
Belladonna: 335 (8.9%)
Curare: 209 (5.5%)
Strychnine: 183 (4.9%)
Tetrodotoxin: 156 (4.1%)  
Ricin: 123 (3.3%)
Botulinum: 94 (2.5%)
Batrachotoxin: 55 (1.5%)
Aconite: 53 (1.4%)


Poll 419: What's the greatest involvement you've ever had in an Internet e-mail scam?

Total votes: 4163

Received scam e-mail: 1034 (24.8%)
Read scam e-mail: 1447 (34.8%)
Forwarded scam e-mail to a system administrator: 790 (19.0%)
Responded to a scammer to get more information: 51 (1.2%)
Led on a scammer: 197 (4.7%)
Lured a scammer into a sting: 59 (1.4%)
Sent true personal information to a scammer: 11 (0.3%)
Lost money to a scammer: 12 (0.3%)
Lost more money to a scammer trying to recover losses: 4 (0.1%)
Operated Internet scams: 18 (0.4%)
Relied on Internet scams as primary source of income: 53 (1.3%)
Married to the late President of the Bank of Nigeria: 487 (11.7%)


Poll 420: Favourite food fish?

Total votes: 3596

Salmon: 1021 (28.4%)
I don't like fish at all: 661 (18.4%)  
Tuna: 559 (15.5%)
Some other fish: 384 (10.7%)
Cod: 153 (4.3%)
Swordfish: 132 (3.7%)
Trout: 108 (3.0%)
Haddock: 101 (2.8%)
Catfish: 96 (2.7%)
Eel: 87 (2.4%)
Herring: 56 (1.6%)
Anchovy: 48 (1.3%)
Mackerel: 44 (1.2%)
Flounder: 43 (1.2%)
Barramundi: 39 (1.1%)
Fugu: 33 (0.9%)
Sardine: 21 (0.6%)
Carp: 10 (0.3%)


Poll 421: Which comic is funnier: #1402 or #2167?

Total votes: 2500

#1402: 1357 (54.3%)  
#2167: 1143 (45.7%)

216 people picked <choose> for this one.


Poll 422: When was the last time you visited a dentist?

Total votes: 3920

Today actually!: 108 (2.8%)
Within the past week: 136 (3.5%)
Within the past 4 weeks: 357 (9.1%)
Within the past 3 months: 558 (14.2%)
Within the past 6 months: 715 (18.2%)
Within the past year: 570 (14.5%)
Within the past 2 years: 478 (12.2%)
Within the past 4 years: 425 (10.8%)
Within the past 8 years: 269 (6.9%)
More than 8 years ago: 259 (6.6%)
I've never visited a dentist: 45 (1.1%)  


Poll 423: When faced with a dilemma, do people make the better choice more or less than 50% of the time?

Total votes: 3179

Less: 1935 (60.9%)  
More: 1244 (39.1%)

A few tricky things to note about this poll question:

  • A dilemma is by definition a choice between exactly two things, each equally undesirable. By that definition, it doesn't matter what choice you make, it can't be better than the other one. So there's no valid answer to the question from among the two responses offered.
  • Some people might be working with a less strict definition, in which one choice is slightly better. But perhaps you can't tell beforehand which choice will turn out better, which makes it an a priori dilemma. In such a case you're basically choosing at random, so the odds are exactly 50% that you'll make the "right" choice. And of course "exactly 50%" is not an option on this poll question - you're only given the choice of "more than 50%" or "less than 50%". Under this assumption both of the two answers to this poll are equally undesirable. Do you see where I'm going here?
  • An even less strict definition of a dilemma might allow more than two choices. If they are all equally undesirable, you still can't answer this question, because none is actually better.
  • An even further less strict definition of a dilemma might allow multiple choices, where one choice is in fact slightly better than the others. In this case, how many people take the correct decision depends on how obvious it is and how many alternatives are offered. If it's very obvious, then it's not really a dilemma, since there's no agonising over the decision. So there has to be a significant chance of someone making a wrong decision. But you can't quantify what the odds are without knowing more details. So it's impossible to pick a correct answer to the poll question.
A total of 372 people chose to sidestep the dilemma entirely by recording a "vote" for "<choose>". Of course, by doing this, you're invalidating the question itself. Which in this case may well be a good thing to do. :-)
Poll 424: Have you ever been injured by a (multi-cellular, non-human) animal badly enough to require professional medical care?

Total votes: 3563

No: 2772 (77.8%)
Yes, by a dog: 248 (7.0%)
Yes, by something not already covered: 163 (4.6%)
Yes, because of allergy to a sting/bite: 115 (3.2%)
Yes, by a cat: 61 (1.7%)
Yes, in some accident indirectly caused by an animal: 49 (1.4%)  
Yes, by a horse: 42 (1.2%)
Yes, by a spider: 40 (1.1%)
Yes, by a ferocious wild animal: 40 (1.1%)
Yes, by some other domestic animal: 24 (0.7%)
Yes, by a snake: 9 (0.3%)


Poll 425: Is this question a dilemma?

Total votes: 3826

No: 2944 (76.9%)  
Yes: 882 (23.1%)


Poll 426: When does the weekend begin?

Total votes: 4662

Friday lunchtime: 188 (4.0%)
Friday when you leave work: 1956 (42.0%)
Friday when you get home: 1463 (31.4%)
Friday when you go out for the evening: 115 (2.5%)
When you go to sleep Friday night (or early Saturday): 66 (1.4%)
Midnight between Friday and Saturday: 271 (5.8%)
Saturday when you wake up: 179 (3.8%)
Some other time completely (Thursday; Tuesday morning; whatever): 424 (9.1%)  


Poll 427: (a) Are you a native English speaker; (b) how many words are in: "I don't know"?

Total votes: 4408

(a) I am a native English speaker; (b) 3 words: 1956 (44.4%)
(a) I am a native English speaker; (b) 4 words: 1360 (30.9%)
(a) I am not a native English speaker; (b) 4 words: 784 (17.8%)  
(a) I am not a native English speaker; (b) 3 words: 308 (7.0%)

I was prompted to ask this question by a discussion in the forums about the annotation to strip #2196, in which I state that three of the most powerful words in the English language are "I don't know". Several people commented that "I don't know" is actually 4 words, not 3. Other people, of course, countered that it was indeed three words.

The interesting thing about this discussion was that every single one of the people arguing for 4 words was not a native speaker of English, while every single one of the people arguing for 3 words was a native English speaker. The sample was of course too small to make a general conclusion (there were only 8 or 9 people involved at that point), so I decided to broaden the sampling to several thousand people.

Interestingly the results do seem to confirm that there is a systematic bias here. Native speakers of English are more likely to consider a contraction such as "don't" as one word, while non-native speakers are more likely to consider it as two words.


Poll 428: Will more than half the valid votes in this poll be "No"?

Total votes: 3152

Yes: 1848 (58.6%)  
No: 1304 (41.4%)


Poll 429: The book and the film are both regarded very highly. You don't even know what the story is about, but want to find out. Which do you prefer to do?

Total votes: 3944

Do the original version first, then the adaptation: 1475 (37.4%)  
Read the book first, then see the film: 815 (20.7%)
Either order, I don't really care: 747 (18.9%)
See the film first, then read the book: 477 (12.1%)
Do the original version, avoid the adaptation: 163 (4.1%)
Read the book, avoid the film: 119 (3.0%)
See the film, avoid the book: 82 (2.1%)
Do the adapted version first, then the original: 63 (1.6%)
Do the adapted version, avoid the original: 3 (0.1%)


Poll 430: Ever seen a dead (human) body?

Total votes: 4525

No, never: 1776 (39.2%)
A few times: 1164 (25.7%)
Once: 882 (19.5%)
Twice: 328 (7.2%)
Many times: 224 (5.0%)
Yes - it's part of my job: 151 (3.3%)  


Poll 431: How many types of cheese do you have in your home right now?

Total votes: 4373

None at all: 390 (8.9%)
One, cheddar: 225 (5.1%)
One, cream cheese: 34 (0.8%)
One, some other sort: 328 (7.5%)
Two: 636 (14.5%)
Three: 836 (19.1%)
Four: 570 (13.0%)
Five: 350 (8.0%)
Six: 149 (3.4%)
Seven: 84 (1.9%)
Eight: 32 (0.7%)
Nine: 16 (0.4%)
Ten or more: 102 (2.3%)
No idea, and I'm not going to check: 621 (14.2%)  


Poll 432: Have a look at the entries for the Creative Commons IWC Remix Competition. Which one do you like best?

Total votes: 2992

Remix 3: 698 (23.3%)
Other / tl;dr / The Allosaurus: 596 (19.9%)
Remix 12: 289 (9.7%)
Remix 14: 261 (8.7%)
Remix 4: 240 (8.0%)
Remix 9: 151 (5.0%)
Remix 11: 132 (4.4%)
Remix 5: 115 (3.8%)
Remix 1: 111 (3.7%)
Remix 16: 92 (3.1%)
Remix 2: 70 (2.3%)
Remix 8: 64 (2.1%)
Remix 15: 60 (2.0%)
Remix 10: 51 (1.7%)
Remix 13: 30 (1.0%)
Remix 7: 20 (0.7%)
Remix 6: 12 (0.4%)

And so the winner, by public acclaim, is Remix 3! Congratulations to the creator, Simon Smith.


Poll 433: Which eye do put to the viewfinder when taking a photo?

Total votes: 3851

Right: 1621 (42.1%)
None, I look at the screen on the back: 1423 (37.0%)  
Left: 581 (15.1%)
I don't take photos: 226 (5.9%)


Poll 434: What colour pen ink do you usually use?

Total votes: 4232

Black: 1820 (43.0%)
Blue: 958 (22.6%)
No preference/whatever's handy: 613 (14.5%)  
I use a pencil: 526 (12.4%)
I actually don't write that much: 94 (2.2%)
Purple: 83 (2.0%)
Green: 67 (1.6%)
Red: 47 (1.1%)
Other colour: 24 (0.6%)


Poll 435: Which of the following best defines art? (There is no "other" - pick the option that you think best fits.)

Total votes: 3666

Anything the viewer/experiencer describes as "art": 959 (26.2%)
Something created TO evoke an emotional response: 519 (14.2%)
Something created that DOES evoke an emotional response: 503 (13.7%)
Something created that IS aesthetically pleasing: 367 (10.0%)
What artists do: 241 (6.6%)
Something created TO BE aesthetically pleasing: 236 (6.4%)
Anything the creator describes as "art": 236 (6.4%)
Something that represents something else, real or abstract: 187 (5.1%)
Something designed to make you think about its own nature: 184 (5.0%)
Something ornamental, but which may also have practical use: 119 (3.2%)  
Something used ONLY for ornamental/aesthetic value: 61 (1.7%)
What gets put in art galleries: 30 (0.8%)
Something designed to be different from anything done before: 24 (0.7%)


Poll 436: Sand.

Total votes: 3303

Beaches: 1003 (30.4%)
Particles of quartz and/or calcium carbonate: 995 (30.1%)  
Deserts: 341 (10.3%)
Hourglasses: 294 (8.9%)
Sandman: 282 (8.5%)
Erosion: 162 (4.9%)
Geology: 70 (2.1%)
Sandpits: 70 (2.1%)
Quicksand: 54 (1.6%)
Concrete: 32 (1.0%)


Poll 437: What's scariest?

Total votes: 4944

Velociraptors: 846 (17.1%)
Nazgûl: 795 (16.1%)
Slavering xenomorphs: 649 (13.1%)
Inscrutably malevolent aliens: 636 (12.9%)  
Daleks: 635 (12.8%)
Monsters under the bed: 505 (10.2%)
Zombies: 317 (6.4%)
Flying monkeys: 213 (4.3%)
Ghosts: 191 (3.9%)
Vampires: 83 (1.7%)
Werewolves: 74 (1.5%)


Poll 438: Which is the best of these bad sequels/prequels?

Total votes: 3672

Men in Black II: 1061 (28.9%)
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: 843 (23.0%)  
Matrix Revolutions: 561 (15.3%)
Alien 3: 513 (14.0%)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: 263 (7.2%)
Batman and Robin: 146 (4.0%)
Highlander II: The Quickening: 102 (2.8%)
Rocky V: 48 (1.3%)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: 40 (1.1%)
Speed 2: Cruise Control: 38 (1.0%)
Jaws: The Revenge: 34 (0.9%)
Caddyshack 2: 23 (0.6%)


Poll 439: Which birthday gift is hardest to disguise?

Total votes: 3823

A swimming pool: 1566 (41.0%)  
A puppy: 950 (24.8%)
A car: 273 (7.1%)
A bicycle: 224 (5.9%)
A giant Toblerone: 201 (5.3%)
Goldfish: 170 (4.4%)
A cello: 111 (2.9%)
A surfboard: 83 (2.2%)
A potted plant: 78 (2.0%)
A lawnmower: 69 (1.8%)
A CD: 60 (1.6%)
A book: 38 (1.0%)


Poll 440: When you write computer code, what is usually your second highest priority?

Total votes: 4391

I don't write computer code: 1726 (39.3%)
It is robust to all possible inputs: 420 (9.6%)
It is well-documented and easy to understand: 367 (8.4%)
It is elegantly designed: 298 (6.8%)
It is easy to maintain: 243 (5.5%)
It is written as fast as possible: 232 (5.3%)
It gives the correct answer/behaviour: 186 (4.2%)
It is impossible for anyone else to understand, ensuring my job security: 182 (4.1%)  
It is easy for a user to understand and use: 163 (3.7%)
It is compact, using as few lines of code as possible: 152 (3.5%)
It runs as fast as possible: 120 (2.7%)
It is easy to re-use: 120 (2.7%)
It makes clever use of language features: 48 (1.1%)
It uses as little memory as possible: 42 (1.0%)
It implements lots of cool features: 37 (0.8%)
It has a cool-looking user interface: 36 (0.8%)
It runs on many platforms: 19 (0.4%)

I was prompted to post this question by an incident that occurred at work recently. We have a mailing list where people send in their software problems so other staff can with the right knowledge can help. I posted a question asking how to do something in some programming language (python, if you're curious). One of the responses I got back included the comment that I had some serious issues with my code design. My response was that I was employed as a researcher, so my priorites when writing code are very different to those of software engineers.

My first priority is that the code I write does the right thing - it gives the correct answers. I thought that would be the first priority of anyone who writes code (but I guess not from the people who answered this question that it's their second priority). My second priority - by a huge margin - is that I get the code written as fast as possible.

Much of the code I write is only ever going to be run 2 or 3 times. It's not going into any sort of production system where it needs to handle strange inputs, or fail gracefully, or be easy for users to understand, or be easy for even me to understand a month from now. It doesn't need to be efficient as it runs. If it takes 10 minutes to run, that's fine, even if it could be optimised to be run in a fraction of a second. Because the critical thing in my job is that I get the research done, then move on to the next problem. If it takes me an hour to write code that takes 10 minutes to run, that's twice as good as spending two hours and 20 minutes writing code that does the same thing in a second.

I realise many, if not most, of the people who write software have different end goals, and thus different priorities. So I was inspired to post this poll to see what the breakdown was.


ART Poll 441: I found this painted on a construction hoarding around a building site. Is this art?

Total votes: 4560

Yes: 2951 (64.7%)  
No: 1609 (35.3%)

I received several comments suspecting me of trickery by deliberately cropping these letters out of a larger word, or otherwise concealing the fact that this was some strictly utilitarian installation. But no, there was not trickery involved - it really was just the word "ART" painted on boards surrounding a construction site, with little stencilled fish around it. I only cropped it this way because I thought that made it a more interesting photo.

Someone made the comment that even if the original wasn't art, my act of deliberately composing it as a photograph created a photo that counted as art. Which I thought was very astute.

Art is interesting stuff.


Poll 442: How many of your digital photos do you keep?

Total votes: 3840

I archive every single photo I take: 399 (10.4%)
I delete obviously bad shots, black, totally out of focus, etc.: 1350 (35.2%)
I delete slightly bad shots, but keep anything in focus: 543 (14.1%)
I vet shots for composition, deleting some with no technical faults: 333 (8.7%)  
I delete some perfectly good shots, only keeping ones I like: 271 (7.1%)
I delete many shots, only keeping ones that stand out somehow: 92 (2.4%)
I delete most shots and only really keep the odd one or two: 94 (2.4%)
I delete them all eventually: 42 (1.1%)
I still use film, not digital: 115 (3.0%)
I don't take photos at all: 601 (15.7%)


Poll 443: A global calamity wipes out 99% of humanity and causes civilisation to collapse completely. Would you rather survive or be killed in the calamity?

Total votes: 5011

Survive: 3975 (79.3%)
Be killed: 1036 (20.7%)  


Poll 444: How many books do you own?

Total votes: 4151

Less than 30cm (1 foot) of shelf space: 51 (1.2%)
30-90cm (1-3 feet) of shelf space: 103 (2.5%)
90-180cm (3-6 feet) of shelf space: 207 (5.0%)
1.8-3m (6-10 feet) of shelf space: 277 (6.7%)
3-6m (10-20 feet) of shelf space: 478 (11.5%)
6-9m (20-30 feet) of shelf space: 491 (11.8%)
9-12m (30-40 feet) of shelf space: 429 (10.3%)
12-15m (40-50 feet) of shelf space: 340 (8.2%)
15-21m (50-70 feet) of shelf space: 364 (8.8%)
21-30m (70-100 feet) of shelf space: 407 (9.8%)
30-45m (100-150 feet) of shelf space: 272 (6.6%)  
45-60m (150-200 feet) of shelf space: 152 (3.7%)
60-90m (200-300 feet) of shelf space: 141 (3.4%)
Over 90m (300 feet) of shelf space: 439 (10.6%)


Poll 445: If you were offered an expensive new two-seater sports car, on condition that you give up all other cars you (and your partner, if you have one) have, and that you couldn't sell it, would you take it?

Total votes: 4619

No, it would be totally impractical for me: 1419 (30.7%)  
Yes!!! Where do I sign?!: 867 (18.8%)
No, I don't drive anyway: 731 (15.8%)
Hmmm. Depends what make and model: 567 (12.3%)
I'd love to, but it would be too inconvenient: 442 (9.6%)
No, it's environmentally irresponsible: 234 (5.1%)
No, I don't want to look like a rich prat: 192 (4.2%)
Hmmm. What colour is it?: 86 (1.9%)
No, I already have an expensive car I like: 81 (1.8%)


Poll 446: How often do you eat pizza?

Total votes: 4028

Every day: 20 (0.5%)
Almost every day: 41 (1.0%)
A few times a week: 310 (7.7%)
About once a week on average: 1047 (26.0%)  
A few times a month: 1257 (31.2%)
About once a month: 791 (19.6%)
A few times a year: 408 (10.1%)
About once a year: 24 (0.6%)
Less than once a year: 30 (0.7%)
I don't eat pizza any more at all: 60 (1.5%)
I've never had pizza in my life: 40 (1.0%)


Poll 447: You win if you beat the option that gets the most votes:

Total votes: 3201

Paper: 1419 (44.3%)
Rock: 902 (28.2%)
Scissors: 880 (27.5%)  

Paper got the most votes, so everyone who voted for Scissors wins! Wow... interesting.


Poll 448: Do you still fit into clothes you had 10 years ago?

Total votes: 3539

No, I was still growing 10 years ago: 1467 (41.5%)
Yes, I have a few old items that I wear now and then: 762 (21.5%)  
No, I've gained weight since then: 456 (12.9%)
Yes, I regularly wear clothes I had 10 years ago: 407 (11.5%)
I think I would, but haven't kept any clothes that old: 194 (5.5%)
Sort of, if I really try: 112 (3.2%)
Honestly, I have no idea: 90 (2.5%)
No, I've lost weight since then: 43 (1.2%)
No, I wasn't even born 10 years ago: 8 (0.2%)


Poll 449: Most stereotypical English thing?

Total votes: 6664

Cup of tea: 2259 (33.9%)
Cockney accent: 1139 (17.1%)
Fish and chips: 497 (7.5%)
Big Ben: 343 (5.1%)
Union Jack: 340 (5.1%)
Double decker bus: 281 (4.2%)
Red telephone box: 273 (4.1%)
Cricket: 219 (3.3%)
Dickensian street urchin: 202 (3.0%)  
Rain: 183 (2.7%)
Palace guard: 157 (2.4%)
Bobbie: 152 (2.3%)
Bowler hat: 151 (2.3%)
Beefeater: 130 (2.0%)
Pint of ale: 117 (1.8%)
Football (soccer): 89 (1.3%)
Black cab: 49 (0.7%)
Gin and tonic: 37 (0.6%)
Umbrella: 29 (0.4%)
Bulldog: 17 (0.3%)


Poll 450: When was the last time you attended a professional sporting event?

Total votes: 3812

Today!: 18 (0.5%)
Within the past week: 88 (2.3%)
Within the past month: 154 (4.0%)
Within the past 6 months: 324 (8.5%)  
Within the past year: 290 (7.6%)
A year or two ago: 466 (12.2%)
3 to 5 years ago: 506 (13.3%)
5 to 10 years ago: 517 (13.6%)
10 to 20 years ago: 398 (10.4%)
Over 20 years ago: 193 (5.1%)
Never: 858 (22.5%)


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