I have used craigslist to get rid of things my previous roommates left behind, sell my futon, find an apartment, find new roommates, garage sales, buy pillows, apply for jobs…and now most recently recruiting users for user studies.
Now I had never done the latter before. I used to recruit through flyers and through people I knew. I once posted on a mailing list, but that got students from the school I was attending. Relatively normal people.
But recruiting users from the masses is a completely different story. I got more than 150+ emails in one day, requesting to participate in a relatively minimal compensation study. At first, I was pleased with the results, but as I started contacting users for a screening, I realized it was much more.
Granted, most of the time, people were normal and usually earnest than expected. But there was one phone call. At first, I was going to reject him because of his lack of phone call consideration (calling after the cutoff time?) However, he passed my rigorous screening for the type of user we wanted, because he work was what we were looking for. Out of principle, I scheduled him for a test.
As I finished giving him our address, he suddenly asked me, “Are you Chinese?”
I paused, feeling slighted that he walked into my personal space.
“Because you talk like my ex-girlfriend. She’s Chinese.”
“I didn’t know that was something you can tell over the phone,” I said in a voice lacking in color.
He ignored my distaste and continued, “After the study, I can show you around my hotel. I can show you personally how I work.”
I ignored his comment and said that I would send him an email confirming the study, thinking what an interesting experience.
Then I told my boss the story on the day of the study. Almost immediately, my boss told me to cancel the study due to the user’s inappropriateness. I took a deep breath and made the call.
Reminder to self: Do not call people who respond to ads in caps. Do not call people who add “AND I AM SINGLE” at the end of their email response.