A Ritual Listicle, or Why You Should Stop What You’re Doing and Complete Your Census Survey

If you haven’t already participated in the 2017 Black Rock City Census online survey, you’re about to run out of time! The survey will close at the end of the day on October 22. You may have been randomly sampled on your way in the Gate; you may have filled out a Field Notes book at Census Lab or Center Camp; you may have started the online form, but quit a few minutes in. If any of those are you, you’re not done! If you want to stand up and be counted, now’s the time. But why should you?

  1. It’s new and improved. Burners spoke, and Census listened. Annoyed at having to do it in one sitting? Despise how long it is? Miffed at how it asks for some intimate information? We have good news for you! We’ve added two alerts within the survey letting you know the “safe” points where you could stop and still have your data included. We’ve also shortened the survey where possible and enabled a “save and continue later” feature (though the deadline is still October 22, even if you use this option!). As always, you can skip questions anytime you want. Some data are better than no data, so answer the questions you want to and skip the ones you don’t!
  2. It’s an easy and anonymous way to ensure that your voice is heard. Census always protects your anonymity — we do not collect any personally identifying information.
  3. To relive that playa idyll. Whether you had the transformation you were hoping for — or, you know, not so much if you’re Caveat — reflecting on your experiences can be a worthwhile endeavor in itself. You’ll answer that question about what kind of vehicle you traveled to the event in, and realize that having the brakes fail on your 40-foot RV in the middle of the Nevada desert is… kind of a funny story, now that you’ve got a few months’ perspective on the whole thing. Maybe you’ll come back next year after all.
  4. To combat the total infiltration of alternative facts. We have all seen uninformed media pieces on Burning Man, or those carefully crafted pieces that use Census data in totally indefensible and methodologically unsound ways. I won’t link them here, but you know the kind. Having valid, reliable data available for the population of Black Rock City each year is one of the best tools in our arsenal to combat the myths that persist about Burners, both among outsiders and among members of our community.
  5. To preserve the things you care about. Census results can actually have an impact on future years’ Burns! For example, a few years ago the Burning Man Project was considering whether to continue printing the What Where When guide. They asked Census to add some questions to our survey, and Burners overwhelmingly said the WhWhWh was important to them. They listened, and the WhWhWh is still in print! We aren’t asking about the WhWhWh this year, but your answer to other questions can be just as impactful.

If you’ve already done it and we’re preaching to the choir, thanks for your data and for reading our list! If not, then what are you waiting for? Go do it!

Written by Sarah “Picky” Williamson

Edited by Dana “DV8” DeVaul

About the author: Census Team

Census Team

The Census Lab is a volunteer team of information geeks, academic researchers, students, and general data nerds who have surveyed Black Rock City (BRC) residents since 2002.

6 Comments on “A Ritual Listicle, or Why You Should Stop What You’re Doing and Complete Your Census Survey

  • Candice says:

    I enjoyed filing out my survey. It forced me to actually calculate my mileage (from Atlanta!) and I was a little shocked.

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    • Jska says:

      I didn’t know there was a deadline for the census as this was my first year and i have been so busy at home lately, or I would’ve participated

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      • Census Team says:

        Sorry we didn’t get to include your data! The survey opens every year after we get home from Burning Man, so you’ll have other opportunities if you attend again!

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  • An experience that cannot be explained to anyone who has not been there & hardly to some who has – because it is your BURN.


    PaPa JADD

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  • Bill Matthies says:

    New to Burning Man so please forgive the simplistic questions. The Census is only for those who have attended, not those looking to attend? I’m doing my best to stay informed in hopes of attending in 18. Don’t want to miss things that are important when it comes to buying tickets.

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    • Census Team says:

      The census survey happens after Burning Man, and we ask for responses from the participants who made up the population of Black Rock City that year. We hope you make it out there in 2018, and that you’ll complete the 2018 survey after the Burn! :-)

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