Target Audience in Your Tasks


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Nov 3, 2016
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I'm fairly certain most of us were taught at some point to consider our target audience when writing papers, stories, film scripts, et cetera. Maybe I'm just hopeful that this is the case.

"It's all Greek to me." Well, that being the case, I am the target audience and I can and should understand it. After all, I was a Classics Major at the University of Dallas and I have 4 years of Classic Greek to fall back on. I should expect that everyone understands Greek. Right? Well.. no. That idiom exists for a reason.

"ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα èn oîda óti oudèn oîda" The only thing I know is that I know nothing (loosely translated. Also, Google does a pretty good job w/ the accents. I never could deal w/ them in college)
Pretty likely you would not have understood that without copying and pasting it in a search bar somewhere to determine what it translates to. Why do I bring this up? Well, target audience of course. It happens to be in the title of this post.

The whole point of this: A rather large number of mTurkers are not likely of an age where modern slang means anything to them. I count myself here. Requestors, most of you anyways, y'all are in college, mostly post baccalaureate, and much of your slang is not common to those of us who are not near your age. Keep that in mind. While my generation is the generation that is responsible for SMS and/or chat languages, we do not know all. Slang is far from dead and continues to evolve. Y'all are not likely to understand the slang or abbreviations I would have used when I was in college in the late '90s just as I am pretty likely not to understand the slang or abbreviations y'all use now.

I encountered that on a survey presented by a grad student the day I decided to write this post. I could infer what it meant by the context of the survey but I read the text on the page twice to make sure it didn't refer to something I missed. Turns out it is an abbreviation for "want to purchase" or "what's the plan" or "what's the point" or at least a dozen other things including some very recently popularized X rated things. In my case it was "want to purchase" as in a play on the "Buy It Now" function in eBay and other auction sites.

All this to say: Remember who your target audience is.
1. Many of your survey takers on this platform or other similar ones are not of age where they get your slang. Spell it out. Instead of "WTP" use "want to purchase" or better yet rephrase it so what you're looking for makes sense to the reader. "What would you offer for the item?"
2. Industry slang: don't use it unless you pre-screen for certain industries (biochemistry, construction, computer programming, etc) or put a qualification on your task. I have close friends who are biochemists, for example, but that doesn't mean I understand biochemistry slang. Far from it in fact.
3. Language: I don't mean foreign language versus English (though that's important too if your target audience is primarily native English speakers for example) What I mean here is level of language. Don't use SAT vocabulary for a task that is open to all unless that vocabulary is actually part of something you're testing. I know what "ameliorate" means but, with about 90% probability, I can probably throw a baseball in the air and hit someone who doesn't know its definition.

This is just something to keep in mind. We are seeing a lot of new Requestors this year as we do every year. My advice above is primarily targeted to Requestors but can also be beneficial beyond college programs. As one who has written quite a lot of technical documentation over the years for everyone from people who have never touched a computer until they started a call center support job to developers with 30+ years of experience I can tell you that keeping your target audience in mind as you write is extremely important. Remember, you can always ask for help or advice in here. We will be glad to assist. The MTurkCrowd forum has been a fantastic resource for Requestors and turkers alike.