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New Yorker Magazine Outsources Cartoon Caption Contest to Google Consumer Surveys?

The Experts on Google Consumer Surveys - 06/25/12 07:00 AM

Those who read the New Yorker magazine are familiar with the last page of the magazine, which is a contest that asks readers to submit a caption for a “blank” New Yorker cartoon. Readers write in, several captions are chosen by the New Yorker staff as “finalists,” and then a winning caption is chosen by readers who go to the New Yorker website to vote on their favorite, from among the 3 finalists.

Is that process about to end? Will it be replaced by a Google Consumer Surveys solution? Here’s what the New Yorker (update: or someone posing as the New Yorker) is running on Google Consumer Surveys this week (continue reading below, for context):

The New Yorker (update: or someone posing as the New Yorker) is asking adults to look at one (and only one) of the captions above and rank that caption on a scale of 1 (star) to 7 (stars). Reminder that no one respondent sees more than one cartoon. So: one group of Google responders will have seen caption A, a second group will have seen caption B, and a third group will have seen caption C. Unclear so far what the New Yorker plans to do with the results, but it’s clear they have something up their Conde Nast sleeve (update: or someone else is sniffing the New Yorker’s rear-end).

Here below is that same cartoon, as it appears on page 86 of the current 06/25/12 print edition of the New Yorker magazine.

And here is what New Yorker readers see if they go today to the New Yorker website, and try to pick a winner from among the 3 finalists.

Is moving this vote from the New Yorker website to Google Consumer Surveys a good thing? Or a bad thing? How do you picture the Venn diagram that shows in one oval the subscriber base of the New Yorker and in another oval the universe of people who respond to Google Consumer Surveys? A large overlap? Or almost no overlap?

Of some concern, though not new to the readers of these pages, is that the New Yorker cartoons may be too finely detailed to be legible at the size Google shows them. Consider:

If you can make out the cartoon at this size and scale, and if you have a better caption to offer, now is the time to do so. We do not yet see any reference to this particular cartoon on the New Yorker website or in any recent print edition of the New Yorker. Update: This cartoon appeared in the New Yorker 04/23/12

We’ll monitor the magazine and the website for you, and as always we’ll monitor Google Consumer Surveys, and let you know where this is headed. Your thoughts on what the New Yorker should do, most welcome.

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