5/20/04 THE SURVEY AND THE RESPONSES IT ELICITED AND OUR
RESPONSES TO THEM
We have had enough respondents to our first survey to publish preliminary results.
If more come in, and if they significantly change the results shown below, we
will amend this page.
1. How did you first learn about SMA OnLine?
Received an email from you announcing it............................................80.3%
A friend told me about it.................................................................................9.9%
I read about it on some other web-site.......................................................2.8%
I read about it in the paper media.................................................................1.4%
2. What kind of connection do you have to the Internet?
dialup modem at Unisono or Prodigy here in town...............................42.3%
Cable modem like at Cybermatsa here in town.......................................32.4%
dialup modem in the USA or other non-3rd-world country....................8.5%
Cable modem in the USA or other non-3rd-world country.....................4.2%
Satellite TV connection.....................................................................................2.8%
3. Where are you located most of the year?
San Miguel most of the year............................................................................76.1%
San Miguel about half of the year...................................................................11.3%
San Miguel about 1/4 of the year.......................................................................7.0%
Just a visitor to San Miguel
Other connections to SMA, such as used to live there,
4. We would like to know whether or not you both read, and understood, some of our web-pages (departments)?
the TOP (HEADLINES) page leads you to all departments but it lists ONLY the most current article
....................................68.6% said "yes"
the table of contents page also leads you to all departments but it lists ALL
the "How to write to and for us" page gives you instructions that are helpful to
you..... .....................39.2% said "yes"
THIS low percent is the reason we are having so much trouble with the "look" of
our magazine and the time consumed in publishing things. Please click o
and read this page.
the "breaking news" is our attempt to give you SMA news before you can get it almost anywhere else......................60.8%
the "current controversy" page solicits your opinions.....................43.1%
the "objectives of every page" are listed at the end (or bottom) of every
page ........... ...................31.4%
the FAQs page gives you answers to common questions you might have about our web-site...........................29.4%
said "yes" THIS low percent is the reason
many of you are having problems with our web-site. Reading this page would
be of great help to you.
Other (anything you'd like to add?).................. the
following thoughts were added in this "other" (and
our responses follow):
I want other people´s experiences on
finding plumbers, gardeners, carpenters, etc. and how to do it stuff -- as
do we, so anyone, certainly you, too, have to send them to us. As we've
said from the beginning, we publish (a full-time non-paid job) but we need the
articles from others
I am sometimes overwhelmed by all the
information - for example under columnists you list the Restaurant Reviews and
it seems as though this is the only column there -- we
have changed that so that you can see the 3 (as of now) columnists on that page
and click to their individual pages (restaurants, book reviews, and the
"now and then" column) - and, you don't have to read everything in one
sitting - until they get very old, all articles remain online - that's the
beauty of web-sites with about 100 megabytes of space available to us.
not interested in reading anything but
e-mails -- OK, this paper is not for you
Who is that other of whom you speak?-- you
will have to be more specific as I don't know what you are referring to.
If you see this later, please send an email to mpwinprodigy.net.mx and I'll answer publicly.
haven't read it yet - a quick glance seems
to indicate it is redundant and not user friendly ... my opinion only. -- if
you can be more specific, I will see what I can do to correct that. This
survey is intended to get your opinions to aid us in our evolution.
I have had problems getting from one topic
to another - the click-links are the normal way that are used on all web-sites
on the internet -- if you have specific
details and suggestions, I would be happy to consider them, but in the mean
time, try our new navigator aid to that problem.
If you can keep the "news" as you
intended, it would be wonderful. I like the idea of "voicing"
opinions.. and updating residents of the current "laws" as they are
always changing. -- Thank you, but you
must remember that we can only publish what we receive. You, the readers,
are ALSO our eyes and ears and most importantly, our writers. We are
barely keeping ourselves above water solely publishing, so we do have any time
around" for news.
The article on "house help" was
very helpful. How does one sign up their house-help with Social Security? I
don't know - do you??? -- if it isn't
there (where you read it) then "no" but as I said above, if anybody
does know, it is our hope that they tell us about that, and any other tip for
living here. That is where our information comes from.
It is hard to live in another country
not having access to vital information to help make living within the law
easier. There is too many misunderstandings - it depends on who you talk to. The
person I tried to "network" with was so misinformed - so wrong in many
areas .... so please keep us informed. -- if
you keep us informed, we can keep everyone else informed.
humor - did
you look at humor in sma? not to mention many of
the other articles are written with a humorous touch.
The intent of this section isn't clear.
You're overstating the importance of "Breaking News" since you don't
have trained reporters and can't be sure you're getting accurate and complete
information.-- what you say is true, but
it beats "saying nothing" by a mile. Our source for local news comes
from local Spanish language radio and newspapers and the gringo news comes from
sources where people sign as authors. No one in the English language press
has come close to beating us in timing, and they are generally days, if not entire
weeks, behind us. And we have yet to be incorrect so far. Take the
breaking news for what it is worth to you.
I would like to see a place where ALL the
web sites, coollist, Archie's book, are all listed together -- yes,
you told me that once before and I agreed it was a good suggestion. But,
you did not provide any information. Once again, we are publishers with
insufficient time to also be investigative reporters. Nonetheless, we did
finally obtain information from many sources other than you and what we got is
click-linked at links to other sma sites.
In the mean time, I suggest you, Mary, read the current controversy
page and give your side of the story.
5. We would like to know about what the site looks like to you.
Is it easy enough to read - do you know how to change the text size on your own browser, if necessary?......................58.7%
said "yes" and for those who don't know how, click link to FAQs
for "how to do it"
Is the formatting, while not professionally perfect, acceptable to you?............69.6%
said "yes" and for those who think not, remember that the
responsibility for formatting is the authors. We try where possible to fix
it here and there but we do not always have the same software as the author used to
create the writing.
Is the categorizing of individual articles by web-page (or department) satisfactory?...........52.2%
said "yes" and for those who think not, we would welcome specific
suggestions and we will attempt to comply where possible.
Have you tried other browsers to see which works best for you?.... only
2.2% said "yes" and for those who haven't (97.8%) we really suggest
that you look at FAQs where
we suggest free browsers that work better on all web-sites than the ones that you have.
Are you aware that we tried to be more informative than pretty (as we explained in our
said "yes" but for those who prefer fancy graphics (which we are able
to provide but made a decision not to do), we suggest you read WHY we don't in a
comment under FAQs
Are you aware that we are a community-supported medium and therefore we need writing from all of our readers?............73.9%
said "yes". However, for those of you who need a reminder,
this is a one-person publishing job, unpaid, and provided free to all of you,
but the writing and the editing MUST be done by you, the reader/writer.
Please help us all to continue whatever it is that you individually get out of
Are you aware that the length of the article is not as important as the substance of the
article.........65.2% said "yes". My
apologies to all of you who did not understand this question. As the
writer/designer of the survey, I also forgot what it meant as I was just now
reading it. But now remembering, it was just a reminder to you that short
"tips for living here" and other brief notes are also needed, wanted,
necessary, imperative, and more (get the point?) to aid others who do not know
what you have already discovered.
Are you aware that any good story, any good idea, and interesting fact or opinion, is something you can write about and something your neighbors would enjoy?...................58.7%
said "yes". Sorry for pushing you, but ANYTHING that occurs to
you is just the sort of thing someone else just might enjoy reading or knowing
or even thinking about. Please write.
Other problems (please elaborate).................. the
following thoughts were added in this "other" (and
our responses follow):
If stories are all about SMA, it seems a bit myopic to me. Could we have stories about other spots in
Mexico, even other countries south? --- if there is
some nexus to SMA, no problem. But they have to be written by
someone. How about your writing one?
I still can't find The Tuesday Market - you said it was under Tips - so I can't refer anyone to it - I know it is there somewhere -
what do you do at the Tuesday Market?
Shopping! Did you look in the table of contents
under shopping tips?
I thought that all articles had to relate to San Miguel and/or Mexico. This is news that any good writing is
accepted. If this is the case, you might consider seperating out the articles that have to do with SMA and MX from general non-fiction or essays.---
ordinarily I would agree with you but the non-fiction,
fiction, essays, etc. ALL have to do with SMA (most often, and occasionally
Mexico secondarily). Interestingly enough, did you see an earlier comment
regarding the opposite viewpoint (two comments further up). If you read
our "goals and mission" and other statements, you will see that our
reason for being is to serve the expatriate resident of San Miguel and to
provide information that is difficult for them to find elsewhere.
We are not in competition with other media that already provides that which we
do not then have to provide.
I have found no articles about the chamber music festival--where are they?--
If you write one, there will be one. You can't
expect a free (and with no advertising) non-profit medium to do this for you,
now, can you? We need you and your neighbors as writers to survive.
NOT WELL ORGANIZED-- sorry,
but what do you suggest more specifically than that, and what will you do to
help organize it? I promise to give great consideration to your
ideas. Write with specifics to email@example.com
In some sort of reaction to this comment, I think the new navigator
page might be just what you need.
Yes to everything except trying another browser -- I
really truly suggest using another browser and in the interest of full
disclosure, even as a stockholder of Microsoft, I still think their MS Internet
Explorer browser is the worst on the market. Try another. I use
Netscape 7.1. Read our web-page (frequently asked questions) FAQs
for details on how to obtain this free browser.
6. We are testing TWO different websites - one is the one you have been using,
(call it wtcsites) and we are also testing http://angelfire.lycos.com/jazz/smaonline/index.html
(call it angelfire). Ignoring the length of the URL web-site address (because we have another idea that will shorten either of them) which of the two sites do you like best, and why do you like it?
We received the following responses (and
our comments thereon, if applicable)
You know best - well.
maybe, but I was looking for your opinion.
wtcsites is fine -- haven't looked at your angelfire but have seen angelfire sites in the past and if longevity counts, it would be a good
choice -- I'm leaning in that direction for both
the longevity reason AND the fact that the present status of advertising is both less AND San Miguel oriented
(not that that couldn't be annoying). OK, later note: we are
switching to Angelfire as of 5/28/04. The new URLs (web-site addresses)
are sprinkled all around, including on the old wtcsites web-site's HEADLINES
I find then equally easy to use - saved in favorites the long address is no problem
- good idea and everyone should bookmark or save
favorites which makes it easier to access web-sites.
Haven't tried angelfire. This is actually the first time I've seen mention of it.
- it IS the first time I've mentioned it, but the
way things look, you may see it more often soon..
doesn't matter as I just follow the links and never need to type them - yes,
that IS the way to do it but I can't seem to get everyone to understand that
Have not noticed a difference between the 2. However, I would suggest that in every email that you send out, such as this one regarding the survey, you always put your website as a matter of course so that people can easily click on the site from your text. I somehow could not find the new adddress in my bookmarks and almost was not able to do the survey as I wanted to review the site before
responding -- Very good idea. I think I have
sent out a few emails to people other than the "SMA OnLine" mailing
list that did not have the website addresses.
I would prefer a shorter website. Several people I have asked to read your newspaper have not been able to get in.--
I don't understand. Are you hoping for a shorter URL (web-site
address)? Or are you desirous of fewer pages on the web-site?
Or maybe of shorter pages on the web-site? It is also possible that you mean
that the people were not able to "connect" with the web-site address
(short or long) - in that case, they should try again. I have addressed
that problem on the FAQs page.
The one you are using now is fine - OK
I´ve only seen the first one so I can´t address the second...will see the other one when I´ve returned from the beach and can do it at leisure on my own computer
- good, if you have an opinion, please write me at
this one is fine- OK
the first one - the wtcsites one, sorry, we
are switching to angelfire shortly.
Not much difference and either one is clear and adequate -
No preference. - OK
I am very satisfied with the current way the paper is being delivered.- OK
Either layout seems fine. I would like to add that on your gossip page, you might inform people about the Mexican laws against slander. I, for one, want to leave the US behind me and become Mexican, so I respect their laws even when I speak in
English - yes, I agree, your suggestion was so
important that although I already had such a statement on the "employees"
page, I just added it to the "anti-gossip"
and "local politics" pages as well.
I couldn't see much difference. Use whichever is simpler for you - thank
I love your idea to do this...but I am bewildered by what I percieve as difficulty writing and submitting
articles -- look at the write to & for us
page and if you still have a problem, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Are you satisfied with the overall usefulness of SMA OnLine? If not, tell us how we can
Haven't used it yet...............said 14.3%
Yes ..........................................said 67.9%
No, and these are my suggestions, said 17.9% and
they are printed below (with responses)
clear off old stories (1 - 2 weeks?) - we
have tried to address that problem by listing the most current article first (so
you don't have to look at any below the ones you have already read) and we have
everything listed that way in both the table of contents and the individual page
indexes. And, we are planning to archive (in a separate page) older
articles. But remember one of the reasons for a web-site as opposed to a
book or paper is that we have 100 megabytes of space and there are people and
there will be times when reference to an older article is desired.
I am getting a cluttered feeling. Not a real problem but do find I get tired of
poking around. I really like the format and ease of use of INFOSMA for example
- I just looked at InfoSMA and see that it has evolved
since Jim started it here in SMA before moving to Puerto Vallarta. It now
has about six years of existence and experience. We have 9
weeks. It will take time. That's why I have looked for your input in
this survey. We are and will continue to evolve.
I need a reminder every day or so to check the site. Otherwise I get involved in other stuff.
-- OK, I get up at 4am every morning. Do you
want me to call you at 4:05am?
i would like to see a concise calendar of events - so
would I but we must rely on people to send us the events - when YOU know of
something, will you send us the information? If so, we will publish
it. Once we have the information, we also very concisely publish it as an
index at the top of the local events page as well
as a concise listing of each event on the table of contents
DO NOT PUBLISH SUBSTANDARD WRITING - we publish
everything (within reason and within our printed - see write to & for us
page and goals and mission page - criteria)
but it is up to our writers - you, our readers - to write well and if you are
only reading, don't finish reading that which you do not consider worthwhile
reading. Other than that, as
we have no income nor ever expect to, we will have no editor, but we do use
volunteers and if you would like to be the editor, the position is unfilled.
There are few (maybe none) fringe benefits, no pay, a lot of anguish (especially
if you really are upset by what you perceive to be substandard writing), and a
12-hour day, 7 days a week. Give me a call when you are ready to take that
editor's position. You can reach me at mpwinsma@prodigy.
net I am here day and night, 7 days a week.
Yes! As long as you stay away from personal piss fights - Well,
I can only promise you that I won't get into (let me amend that, I won't get
into many, ehhh, maybe I should not comment at all) any more rules than we
already have. See our write to & for us
page for the rules we already have.
will become more interesting with more input - still a bit thin -- agreed.
But we need more writing from you, our readers, and
more controversial and more opinionated and more humorous and more interesting
and more current and more and more and more writing. I am waiting for your
email. Send your article to email@example.com
Make it simple - OK
8. If you need more writing space, here it is. What other features would you like to see added to SMA
OnLine? and they answered (and, where
appropriate, I responded)
Is there any way we can submit photos or pictures?
No, but only because of the reasons I gave in our FAQs
(Frequently asked questions)
cartoons - No, for two reasons. Seldom will
they apply to SMA but more importantly, see the FAQs just
as I've explained above regarding pictures and photos.
Births, or new sma arrivals, leavings and deaths. Recipes, theater and other cultural events in town and adjoining towns, like Operas and Ballets, etc, performances in
Queretaro - Of course, these are ALL welcomed, but
they must be reported to us. We have no reporters to gather them except
you, the reader/writer. Send us your input in any of the above categories.
Trades and skills, like the name and direction or phone no. for qualified plumbers, electricians, tile
layers - Fine, send them in with names, addresses,
telephone numbers, what they can do, and their language capabilities. And
you must also recommend them by using your name. Then we will publish it.
how much they charge so that the many unqualified people are not constantly rehired by new fools. All the ripping off by the same maids irks the hell out of me, we need some kind of blackballing process or at least a referral service for the many fine
carpinters. And who
is going to provide legal counsel for us, who is going to visit us in jail,
where would we go when we are being deported, and
who is going to take the risks that are inherent in this suggestion? I
refer you to the Mexican constitution (translated into English) at tips for
not sure about this - real estate listings - or would that affect your non-profit status?
- it is not a problem but we have decided at the
onset not to get involved with anything that is provided elsewhere. We
want to meet your need IF someone else has not already done that.
I don't consider Breaking News an appropriate place for death notices. Usually by the time someone is in the death notice it's too late for "Breaking"
News - If it is just the title (Breaking News) that
bothers you, please suggest a better one. I agree that the title is not
great. But the concept has already been useful. The news of Gerry
Wodin's and Carmen Masip's deaths were noted here first and many people have
already thanked us for that early information. Our survey has already told
us that SMA residents travel a lot and are not here to hear the word of mouth as
fast as they can get this type of news on SMA OnLine.
I am very pleased to see a Community Bulletin Board. I think anything that gives the expat community more ease in their lifestyle here, such as with places to get different types of food and other household products. Recently I could not find some simple telephone supplies which necessitated a trip to Quereterro. I am sure that was not necessary but how to find an answer. You might consider a section for computer and/or technology as these are many peoples
challenges - we already have. See computer tips
and FAQs and new computer users
as well as this very survey page. All have or will have computer and/or
technology tips. And remember that YOU, our reader/writer, are expected to
contribute to these and other pages, depending upon your own expertise, your own
experiences, your own life here in SMA.
Keep on keepin' on, Michael - I'm 'atryin'
I have tried to get into the gossip section with no luck... This is a "killer" issue that needs alot of attention.... I am among many women that have been forced to leave SMA because of mean-gossip/slander... If you are not a member of the so called secret group (AAA) there isn't a fighting chance to stop it.
- No problem. You would like to defend
yourself in print. That's exactly what that page is for. But you have to
send your article (or story) to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
(after reading write to & for us and the anti-gossip
pages) and we will publish it (no matter how long it is) on our web-site.
Just be careful not to break any laws (see the page itself) while you are doing
your writing. Email it to us, we will copy it and upload it to the
web-site. I promise!!! Believe me, you deserve a chance to defend
yourself. Few in town have escaped gossip and this new anti-gossip mechanism
just might help.
I dunno, would a classified ad section destroy the purpose? I don´t mean for the big businesses, I mean for garage sales, or a thing here and there...or perhaps that´s addressed with the coollist...just a thought...certainly not necessary at all!
-- Actually, take a look at our new community bulletin board
and see that that might be just what you are looking for. Remember,
though, the input comes from you, the reader/writers.
The calendar of events is in Spanish. Por que? - Because
that is the way it was sent to us. And it is useful in lieu of having nothing else in
its current place. If you would like to volunteer your time and interpret
our Spanish calendar into English, we would publish your interpretation.
We need to know what the LAW is on buying and selling property and not the interpertation the locals generate. What is the Federal Law on foriegners owning and selling property and the number of that law. Also, how does it relate to the type of immergration papers one has or does not have or if that plays a part in a thing called capital gains. I found one law from the new "Ley del Impuesto Sobre la Renta". This book tells exactly in Article IV (146-151)what one can deduct when one sells a property in Mexico. I am unable to pin point anything else but have gotten several different conflicting answers........... Maybe someone can help add to this.
--- Yes, maybe someone can. But, it must be a
reader/writer. We have no staff to look for simple things, much less this
complicated legal issue.
Great asset to the SMA community - thank you
At this point, I think catagories listed covers any type of article, gossip, current events, etc. If it there were any more catagories, it might become too busy and, therefore, take too much time to read online.
- Unlike a hardcopy paper newspaper, you do not
have to read our news magazine in one gulp. Nor do you have to read all of
it. Pick and choose the departments YOU like. Take your time; glance at the
table of contents, take a look at the various indexes at the top of most
pages. Read at your leisure. We are not going away and we have lots
of space (100 Megabytes) at our disposal. And in the mean time, take
a look at our new navigator page.
I think that you're doing a fine job - thank you
would like to see more stuff directed at working and/or younger ex-pats.(and I don't mean teenagers) We're not all old or retired. Networking is always interesting for those of us still actively professional.
-- Great idea, I can promise you a dedicated page
(if we get 2 or more start-up articles that fit that category) or if the articles fit
into other current categories, they still would get published, but do remember
that the articles come from you, not from us. This is a non-profit, no
income, all volunteer personnel, free online news magazine, sans editor or house slaves. Send us the articles. We'll be here to print them.
9. The following features are currently on SMA OnLine at present. Please rate the importance of the following
10. What would you like us to know that we
have not yet asked? What do you think would make this a better and more useful
web-site for you and others in San Miguel? and they answered (and, where
appropriate, I responded)
It could perhaps be more attractive
graphically but I like the simplicity and ease of finding what I'm looking for.
Thank you - I agree about the lack
of graphic attractiveness but it was a conscious decision that we made and we
explain our reasoning at FAQs.
For sale ads, services offered. I'd love to
give up atencion - we are a
non-commercial, nonprofit free community newsmagazine. It is our express
desire NOT to beholden to any advertiser. Even the ads (banners, popups,
etc. that you DO see on our site, are not put there by us. They are put
there by our web-site host and we owe them nothing. The only
"ads" that we publish are unpaid community service ads that fit the criteria disclosed
on our free community bulletin board
page. This web-site is supposed to give you that which you can not easily
obtain elsewhere. I am sorry that we can't help you give up Atencion.
I find the layout with underlines, bold and
many colors to be distracting and "noisy". I would like something that
is cleaner to read. As a starting effort it is splendid and thanks for asking us
to do this survey, I hope many people respond. That
is one of the problems inherent in having no editor (intentional, in our case) and
allowing all writers the relative freedom to format their own pieces. As
publisher, I try to achieve some consistency but it is a battle for which I have
not enough time. The underlines, for the most part, are conventional web-site-links and that is
international internet protocol so we would not dream of changing that. The bold is
necessary, because it is hard to read words
that are not in bold on many
browser screens. But the "many
colors" are sometimes necessary and sometimes overdone. We will try
to meet a better balance on that latter problem.
Thanks for the effort and the good work -
it is admirable and appreciated. You
are most welcome.
you're on the right track.
In your survey you need to separate
resaurant reviews from book reviews. For me the book reviews are very important
the others are not. I'm sure the reverse is true for folks currently living in
SMA - your idea is a good one and we have
already separated the columns into separate pages.
I really like letters to the editor. I like
to know what my neighbors are saying and thinking about. - I
do, too. And I really wish more people would write them, complaining,
screaming, giving thanks, giving opinions, telling things that have happened to
them here in town. Letters are generally short and suggestions in letters
go a long way towards resolving the problems discussed.
Too early to tell - thanks
for giving us time. We hope to evolve into a better and more useful
medium, but we need your ideas, your suggestions, and most importantly, your
writing (skillful or not, experienced or not, funny or not, praising or damning,
we need them).
How to submit an article by simple email -
thanks for offering as the last question, one that is easy to answer but most
important. We would PREFER that you write whatever you are going to
write, a letter, an article, a tip, an interview, some fiction, anything (for
that matter) in the body of the email. No attachments, just in the body of
the email. Give it a title, and write your name as author at the
top. And then just write the article. Break it into
paragraphs and review it for "is it what you want to say" and then
spell-checking would be a nice finish. But no further formatting is necessary and you can write in bold or
not, in big or little fonts, because we can handle it from there but only if it is in
the body of the email. One last thing, suggest which web-site category it
should go into. And we would prefer that you look at write to & for us
at least once in your writing career with us.
Ideas for new surveys should be left at http://members5.ravelly.com/smaonlinenews/
Objectives of this page: to report on general
surveys of whatever nature taken about and for SMA places and subjects.