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Reader survey on the value GothamSchools adds and subtracts

Most of you, dear readers, don’t fall neatly into either the Joel Klein or the Diane Ravitch camps on education, and even more of you don’t find GothamSchools ideological. (Phew! Not being ideological is our goal.)

These are among the findings of our first-ever nonscientific reader survey. You can read our full breakdown in this report.

Our aim is to use the survey findings as fuel for self-improvement. For instance, there seems to be something going on with the comments section.

On one hand, almost 30 percent of responders described the comments section as “very useful,” and a strong 41 percent of respondents reported commenting “every so often.” Among the silent readers, a few reported keeping quiet despite using the comments to shape an opinion. “I visit Gotham to learn from others,” one wrote.

But most of the responders who didn’t comment said it was because of the tone of the comments that are posted. These people peppered their feedback with words like “vitriol” and “offensive.” “I love Gotham Schools but the commenters are nasty!” one wrote. “I’d never want to enter into that fray!”

A few more responses along those lines:

I find the comments are generally people with overly opinionated, yet unsubstantiated views that they want desperately to share but have nobody willing to listen.

I stopped. The comment section has deteriorated from thoughtful commentary to an arena of hysterics, mudslinging, and proselytizing. It degraded from NYT comments to Daily News comments.

Not a good forum for productive conversation–talking at people, not with them

Please help us sort this out. How can we make the comments section a better place to talk constructively about education?

We received more unanimous results when we asked about how useful our news stories and morning and afternoon aggregations are. More than three quarters of responders reported that each section of the site is “very useful,” and less than 5 percent reported that they are not useful.

The survey also paints a picture of the typical GothamSchools reader — or at least the typical reader who took the time to fill out a survey. (We obviously did not administer the survey to a perfect random sample, and our sample size — about 500 — represents a small portion of the unique visitors we receive every day.)

With that caveat, the typical GothamSchools reader is a teacher living in Manhattan who rents and has a Master’s, is in his or her 30’s, and lives in a household with an income of at least $70,000 a year. Do you fall in that category? If so, send us a note and we’ll consider making you our poster reader. In the meantime, we are also anointing the winner of our $100 Amazon gift certificate, so keep your eyes peeled to your inboxes to see if you won.

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