Are Online Surveys Too Good to be True?

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Mindfield.  Toluna. MySurvey. The moment you begin to enter the maze that is online surveys, you become bombarded with the idea that the whole thing might be just one big scam. There are some people who claim that is the truth. On the other hand, some people swear by online surveys as a way to earn extra cash.

Ultimately, there are logical reasons why the system of online survey taking exists. Research marketing companies are hired by constituencies; they crunch the numbers and ultimately provide a service for large companies and, in turn, provide compensation to the takers of the survey. Granted, in most cases, they are small rewards, but taking surveys is easy to do and should be free to you, the survey taker.

As you can imagine, in rare cases, this may result in scams, such as outright fraudulent websites that take advantage of people trying to make a few extra dollars, or websites that just aren’t worth it, based on the amount of time you spend taking surveys.

But “scam” is a tricky word to use when describing survey taking websites. Oftentimes, these sites are not a scam. Some may force users to jump through hoops at times, they may not be managed well, or they may have confusing rules that ultimately mislead people when using the website. However, there are real, certifiable, survey taking websites out there so that giving the general business of online survey taking the benefit of the doubt is warranted.

Do Your Research

First and foremost, read up on the different websites. You will find early on, that there are a number of them. There are many bulletin boards, blogs, and forums devoted to these websites, parsing out the good from the bad. Oftentimes, however, it isn’t cut and dry. One person posts that their experience with a particular website like Toluna was horrible. Another person posts right afterwards that they have been using it for years and find it worth their time. When possible, read the specific rules or examples of how one site is better or worse than others. When reading reviews, always take note of the time in which a person posted a comment. Some websites may have had tricky practices years ago but have since cleaned up; and vice versa.

Assess Your Time

The very act of venturing into online survey taking implies that your time has a value to it. It’s not hard work, but it is a chunk of your time that you could be spending basking in the summer sun or playing Frisbee with the dog. Or more likely, it could be time you spend making money doing something very different. So, assess how much time you are willing to give to survey taking per day or per week. Then give that much time to it and see how much cash comes out of it. You can always try it out for a while--whatever website you choose--then determine whether it is worth it.

Read the Fine Print

You should never pay an initial membership fee. But beyond that, there are all kinds of unique ways each site may use to compensate people for taking surveys. They may mix in non-paying surveys without warning. They may have “cash out limits” or use some kind of point system that can be overly confusing. They may have tons of surveys that you won’t qualify for, so you may end up spending most of your time answering questions and finding out you don’t qualify. There are enough surveys out there so that if one seems to have too many hoops to jump through, there will be another that seems better suited for you.

One thing to keep in mind is that the internet is wide and vast, and truly fraudulent websites often don’t last long. If you do your research, you should be able to stay clear of the true scams and, if your expectations aren’t too high, you may discover that online survey taking is a pretty good opportunity to make a little money.

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