Serious Business

2013 Reader Survey Results

As always, the reader survey results were both delightful and enlightening. Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill one out. 

Like last year, I’ll give you a brief overview of our demographics, then we’ll hit the concerns and complaints one by one.

Gender, Relationship Status, Race, and Ethnicity

All respondents but two identified their gender as female. One respondent is genderqueer, and one chose not to answer.

The readers who answered this survey are mostly white (81%), with several readers who are multi-racial (6%). The most popular answer for ethnicity was American, with multi-ethnic as the second most popular.

Most respondents are in a long-term relationship, and more than half of those respondents in relationships identify as married.

We’re pretty well-educated. The overwhelming majority have at least some college, and many have graduate, advanced, or professional degrees.

Most readers still use a computer to browse P-Mag, and view the pages on the site itself, but mobile use is growing rapidly. Many readers are using RSS readers of various stripes to view the site, as well.

Many respondents are frequent visitors, visiting at least once per week or more.

Most of you found us from links on other websites or in comments sections. Lots of you also wandered in from social media, with an increase in Facebook/Pinterest traffic and a decrease in Tumblr. Twitter is holding its own.


The list of things you like about P-Mag is long and wonderful, and it will keep your editorial team warm over the long, lonely winter. We’re glad you’ve found so many things to enjoy. Frequently mentioned topics were the sense of community, the awesomeness of our commentators, the diversity of content, and the unicorns. (Yay!)

Things We Can Improve

[icon name=”icon-comment”] More “We Try It” articles

Agreed! We’ll try to get more on the schedule.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] Recaps could be more analytic and in-depth.

Agreed! We’re always working on improving our recaps, and this is good advice for all of us who cover TV.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “More unicorns. And more puppies and kittens. And cake/pie. (And booze.)”

I like you.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] Format is squished up against left side of screen.

Fixxored! I added 50px or so of padding to the left side, so you should have more whitespace now.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] Something about the them bothers me I can’t put my finger on.


[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Editing pieces – not copyediting, but pushing back with writers and asking them ‘What do you really mean here?’ Some writers are experienced enough not to need this, but others do.”

We do push back, quite a bit, but not for every piece. We try to do what we can, but even with a big pool of editors, we’ve got limited time. We also let a lot of novice writers have a go, and developing a voice takes some time.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “I think you’re doing just fine.”

I like you, too.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] Faster coverage of breaking news; sometimes P-Mag is late to the party

We’re not really equipped to do breaking news any justice. There are a few reasons why we avoid it. 1. No fewer than four people look at each post before it runs, between copy editing, fact checking, formatting checks, and art checks. While at any given time one or two people who meet those descriptions are available, pretty much the only time we’re all around at the same time is in the evenings. 2. Breaking news sites fuck up a lot of shit, and they have teams of people in place to prevent anyone from hitting the “fuck it up” button. I’d rather be seen as untimely than untrustworthy. That being said, I agree, we could be timelier on the hot topics, we just need to hammer out the logistics.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “One or two articles seem like rants rather than well-thought out ideas encouraging discussion. The articles lacked focus and included a bunch of stereotypes. I’d like to see the editors encourage the writers to better get the gist of what they are trying to say before accepting the article for publication.”

Without knowing specifically which articles you’re talking about, I can’t offer much of an explanation. We try very hard to avoid many negative stereotypes, so I’m especially sorry if we’ve put our foot in our mouth about something that’s important to you.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] More content!/Less content!/More fluff!/Less fluff!

Finding the perfect balance of how much content to run and the ratio of fluff:notfluff is definitely tricky. We try to make editorial decisions based on the data we have on hand. Our longer, more in-depth pieces don’t tend to get near the amount of traffic as our fluff pieces do, so we subsidize the longform pieces with the fluff. Traffic = ad revenues = happy hosting company. I do think our fluff is different than most other sites’ fluff. You’ll never see us speculating on anyone’s baby bump, baby weight, bitch face, shoe choices, reality show, dieting tips, or coital exploits. The schedule as it runs is in a sweet spot. We make our ad goals, our traffic stays consistent, and we get the highest returns on social media with this configuration of the schedule than we did previously.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Less obnoxiously large header images.”

They don’t seem bad to me? The fit nicely on Tumblr/Facebook when our posts get pushed out, and they’re pretty understated compared to other category banners we’ve used. They’ll probably change again at some point in the future, because I’m fickle, but that won’t be for a while. Sorry?

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Not much, ’cause you let the awesome come through. Sometimes I’d like to be able to play all songs in a post with one click, but I reckon YouTube and/or legal malarkey doesn’t allow it. Maybe up career tips or related stories?”

1. Aw, thank you! 2. I don’t think that’s possible. and 3. Noted!

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “This is not a site that I come to for in-depth analysis of anything, but particularly intersectional issues within feminism.”

Fortunately, there are many wonderful, brilliant sites that speak to in-depth feminist analysis. We link to several of them frequently.  You’re right — we’re not on the cutting edge of feminism. What I do think we do well is create a platform where women who’ve been historically excluded from feminist spaces can talk about whatever they want, whether that’s how they’ve felt marginalized from feminism/the community/the world or what TV show/video game/.gif they’re fangirling over. We’ve still got plenty of room to grow, mind you, as the reader survey demographics illustrate, but I think we have the foundation we need to represent a wide array of viewpoints and experiences. Thanks for the feedback, regardless.

.gif break!

Stephen Colbert kissing kittens.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] More DIY!

Agreed! Winter is coming, so kiss up to the writers and tell them you want fun projects to do during the snowy months. I have some ideas up my sleeve for some really easy/cheap ideas for clever ladies on a budget to run after the holidays and before Middlemarch Madness.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Too new to say.” 

Welcome! We keep the box wine behind the server, help yourself.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] The RSS feeds work fine for a day or two, then won’t send any posts for several days, then dump a metric shitton of posts at once. 

This bug is my shame. It’s been a problem for two years. I have spent no fewer than fifty hours trying to figure that motherfucker out, and it continues to escape me. I was really hoping that if I had to have a white whale, it would be Nick Denton, or Bret Easton Ellis (hack), or even even some sort of battle with W.O.P.R., but no. I get an RSS feed. I am truly sorry it’s a pain in the ass.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Can we hang out on one server for awhile? I get sad when I can’t have Pmag on demand.”

Holy shit I hope so. I’m pretty sure each server move is taking a year off my life.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “P-Mag’s regular contributors and and editorial staff are not very diverse, and I would love to see more women of color, LGBTQ women, disabled women, women from outside of the U.S. and Western countries and so forth brought into the fold.”

I will definitely agree that the editorial staff have a lot in common. Our writing pool could be more diverse, too, but we do have more than one writer in each of the categories you mention. I don’t want to tick off a list, because that’s tacky and dismissive, but I do think P-Mag is more diverse than it looks. Can we do better? Yes.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “It would be nice to have some men or openly trans people as guest contributors, though only on feminist issues. I understand the intent to keep the writers women to ensure our voice is heard, but the added diversity might be nice…and help us to see some non-woman advocates of equality.”

Transwomen and transmen are absolutely welcome. Cis men are welcome to apply, as well. We’ve had a handful of men write for us, on a variety of topics relevant to our interests. I’ve turned away as many, if not more, women than men. When I go out recruiting new writers, I don’t tend to reach out to men. It’s not that I don’t like men, because I definitely do! Some of my best friends are men. (ha!?) But men have plenty of spaces to tell their stories, and libraries filled with books by and about them. The male experience has been picked over for as long as people have been able to write shit down.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Maybe more visuals?” 

This is a completely fair point; we suck at pictures. We’ve been trying to get more pretties in since we’ve been watching the results of the survey, and we will definitely keep stepping it up.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] More reviews?

We’ve got you covered on TV, and we try to keep up with books, we’re totally lacking in game and movie reviews, especially with a critical eye. We’ll work on this.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] I loved the takedowns you used to run.

I miss those too! Susan, our takedown specialist with scalpel like precision, is taking a hiatus from writing right now. I’ll definitely pass this on to the active writers, though.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] I want to edit my comments. 

I typed out and deleted a very long reply about the ins and outs of native WordPress commenting, but on reflection, it was boring as hell. Short version: Me too. I hear there’s an overhaul coming to the comments functionality in a future version of WordPress. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye out for a plugin that’s not outdated and doesn’t bork our site. The previous comment plugin with edit functionality we used imploded. It happens, WP updates all the time, plugin developers don’t.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “I feel like the political posts have been really one sided lately, and I wish that would change, either by having more neutral/ less opinionated and more factual pieces or opinionated pieces from both view points.”

Scene from cable series Dead Like Me, wherein a charming young woman is hit with a flaming toilet seat from a decommissioned space station.

That was probably too glib.

I have a feeling this is related to the shutdown. If it is, then I will gladly entertain a submission expressing a different point of view than our previous coverage. I might not run it, but I will happily read a well-constructed argument defending your position.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Never, ever, ever run another story on Hugo Schwyzer. Ever. Unless it’s an obit.”

I laughed so hard at this I feel guilty. Agreed. Will sign in blood.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “Maybe a few less posts a day? Because now I have to go 1 – 2 pages back and wonder if my comments will be read. Which makes me less eager to comment.”

I read every single comment, and I’m pretty sure at least ten other people do, too. Most of the writers are also really good about hopping into their older posts if readers have questions or comments. I know that every writer here cherishes all the comments they get, so don’t be afraid to hop in, even a few pages back. (Authors and editors can see all the comments listed in a table in the site dashboard, so it’s harder for us to miss.)

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “It’s been 6 months since Middlemarch Madness…is it time for a brackett on Badass Ladies of TV/Film?”

That’s my bad, I usually run both of those brackets, and I skipped the TV one this year. I was up to my neck in tech issues, clients, and writing slots to fill. It’ll be back next year! (#TeamCJ #SaveAllisonJanneyFromMom)

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “It’s pretty pathetic that you have male/female as genders. How can a feminist blog not get the sex/gender distinction (as problematic as it is).”

I apologize. As I understand it, sex is related primarily to biology/the physical, while gender is related to identity, and exists as a spectrum. I did make a mistake by not recognizing all the points on that spectrum by limiting the choices to female/male/genderqueer/prefer not to answer. Next year, I plan to make those questions open ended, like the race and ethnicity questions were structured this year, so I’m not trying to put words in people’s mouths or making a dismissive error.

[icon name=”icon-comment”] “You ladies are the blog-embodiment of unicorn hugs.”


By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

10 replies on “2013 Reader Survey Results”

Sometimes I feel like asking someone awesome and not-Caucasian, nor-cis, but I don’t want to give them the idea that PMag is more about Gotta Catch’Em All than people’s opinions, so that’s ..I don’t know how to change that.

I’ve been coming here for years, am still flattered that some of my posts get posted and still enjoy visiting the site. Amen.

RE: Diversity

I’m one of those that believes that P-Mag’s editorial staff and pool of regular contributes could stand to be more diverse and intersectional, especially proportionately speaking. That’s not to erase that the women of varying identities contributing to the magazine past and present nor to erase the intersectional discussions that have happened and continue to happen. That’s also not to suggest that women of varying identities should only ever write about those specific issues. But, I’ve seen it acknowledged several times by us Unicorns that P-Mag could do better in that regard and has continued to make that priority, as well we should. I think we should always challenge ourselves on that and not give in to defensiveness or patting ourselves on the back too much if and when that urge arises, especially if that urge arises to being challenged on that by others.

RE: What writers could do better

I’m working on trying to include more visuals in all of my stuff and also make sure to engage in analysis when I recap or review things. I always appreciate any feedback on that stuff. I do think visuals are nice and can break up something that is an especially long read (I’m a fan of the gif break idea, heh). I don’t post a lot of fluff stuff, but I can also work on length stuff and maybe writing a few longer, more research heavy pieces if people would like to see that. :)

I think P-Mag is way more intersectional than most blogs out there. We actually have a trans* person writing for us and give voices to women of color. I think if readers could look into our internal discussions, they’d see how often we worry about this. And I think it just goes to show how terribly ingrown all of this b.s. is that even a blog as open to diversity as us could do better. But anywhoozles, I think we do a great job and have surprising voices that are pretty f’ing cool.

You’re absolutely right that many of the issues brought up with regards to intersectionality are structural issues, and so even magazines that have made being inclusive a priority will suffer from such issues. I think P-Mag does have some really great voices in spite of those structural issues. But, I also think it’s problematic to say things like P-Mag “gives voices” to WoC. I can’t speak for the other WoC that are regular contributors, and they may disagree. But, I had a voice long before P-Mag and will have one long after P-Mag. Whether other people were and are listening to my voice and the voices of other WoC is up for debate. What P-Mag gave me is an opportunity for another platform to speak and an opportunity to learn and grow in community, and I appreciate that more than I can say. But, no, P-Mag did not give me a voice.

As a new writer, I’d like to say that I’m open to feedback. In fact, I’d love feedback from readers if there’s something you’d like to see (or not see) in my posts. :)

For example, I’m loving recapping :Parks and Rec,” but this is my first time recapping any show. If readers want more or less of something, I totally want to know!

We do have quite a few writers based outside of the US, and we do have the ongoing “News in Asia” posts, for what it’s worth. Also, like you said, we’re more diverse in general that we initially appear, having more than one person meet those “different” sorts of labels the survey-taker mentioned. Myself included!

Still, to everyone reading, I would second Selena in saying that we can always do better, and we’re listening!

I think sometimes people don’t realize how many “diverse” writers we have because they write about topics other than “diversity.” They have their own interests, and not every post by a non-white/cis/hetero/American/neurotypical/able-bodied person needs to be about how they *aren’t* (that big long list). And isn’t that how it should be? Obviously we welcome posts about how issues impact different populations, but we don’t want to stick people in a niche where that’s all they’re allowed to write about, because that’s insulting.

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