Surveying our Community for input on technical priorities

As we prepare to form a Technical Committee to work on version 3.1 alongside tools and other collateral material that can support adoption, we want to gather feedback about the priorities of members in our community.

With leadership from @devin, we’ve drafted this survey: Open Referral Community Survey

Right now, I’d like to test-run this survey with some early respondents who can fill it out and let us know if it all makes sense, how long it takes you, etc. I’m specifically encouraging regular attendees of the Technical Standups to be first responders here – @devin @MikeThacker @skyleryoung @klambacher @SarahP

Once a few of y’all have taken this and report nothing broken or confusing, I’ll promote it more widely here and through our other channels.


Thanks Greg. I have tried the Survey which is pretty good and about the right length.

I note that the page asking about technical resources distinguishes and but only has one UK option, which is I’m not sure if should be a separate option in the survey.

Much appreciated, Mike. I believe @devin will add that option in.

So with that affirmation, I’m going to encourage everyone to start filling this out! I’ll reach out to a few folks specifically next week, and the week after we can start sharing across other channels…

Greg - I noted some missing words:

  • Which Open Referral communication channels do you find most useful for receiving news and updates about Human Services Data Standard (HSDS) and the Open Referral project?

ok thanks! will see if i can edit that myself

I reviewed the survey in a vacuum so apologies if I repeat anything that others have mentione!

The tl;dr is that I think the survery is mostly great but could do with a few tweaks to add some context in some places.

I have also taken a bit of a forward-view with it, and I imagine that some of my feedback may not be relevant yet but I still wanted to note it down for when the community grows and more diverse audiences fill out the survey.

Which terms best describe your relationship to health and human services data?

  • The roles are great but would work better if they were accompanied by a short description of what this type of person is trying to accomplish. This would support people who have not encountered the space before, to understand the terms we are discussing.

e.g. “Help Seeker — I use systems (websites, apps etc) to find health and human services for my needs”

Which Open Referral communication channels do you find most useful for receiving news and updates about Human Services Data Standard (HSDS) and the Open Referral project?

  • Maybe add another question to capture an “other” response in case there’s an informal channel we’re unaware of (very unlikely)

Where do you work?

  • clearly very anglo-centric which, let’s be honest, is true to our audience. However it may put off some other international audiences to be lumped with “other” in the future so it’s worth nipping it in the bud now
  • There does appear to be a hacky way to generate this in Google forms if we’re willing to spend a few mins setting it up
    • would also recommned allowing an “international” or “global” option to let people declare that their Open Referral work is not centred on a particular country.

Are you a technical user such as a database administrator, software developer, data engineer or technical product manager?

  • This is fine, but repeats options from the relationship question and makes it unclear what the difference and purpose is.
  • Suggest implementing the changes to the relationships question above to clarify what roles people play, and reframing this one around “technical competencies”.
  • There are several ways to do this:
    • Role Statements with “NA → Strongly Agree → Strongly Disagree scales” e.g. “I administer a database which deals with HSDS data”
    • Skills with “No experience → Proficient scales” e.g. “Database Administration”

General reckons

  • The survey as-it-stands is short and sweet. If we feel that the current set of questions accurately reflect what we want to know then that’s great and there’s no further work other than the above suggested edits. Otherwise, we should evaluate the survey against our research questions/gaps in knowledge to see where the missing pieces are. I was not involved in the initial design of the survey so cannot speak to this!
  • The following are suggestions based on things that I would want to know from the community, but these may be superflous to OR’s needs:


  • Adding a “Is there anything else you want to tell us”-style freetext question at the end
  • Adding a short section to evoke unmet needs e.g. “Which of the following would be useful to you?” → “Regular Developer webinars” (make sure to include an “other” option)
  • Adding a question or multiple questions to determine if there are any barriers preventing people from engaging in the community more (e.g. “languge barrier/I don’t understand English”, “Unsure how to get in touch”, “I had a bad experience in the Open Referral Forum/IRC Channel”, “I can’t use Github”, “Other” etc.)

Just looping back on this after over a week away, to note that I appreciate this feedback and will need to find some time to re-examine the survey and make edits accordingly. Thanks @mrshll!

@Devin let me know if you have any perspective on these points, meanwhile I will try to find time in the week ahead to attend to this in full.