"A solution that doesn't exist"?!?

Okay, I had just the strangest conversation with a very nice young woman at a research firm who called to pre-qualify me for a study. It was on "digital media," and I figured I'd probably have a good shot at attending something like that given my life and job.

That is, until we hit the last question, which was so incoherent that I had to ask what she meant:

"Have you ever hacked a web site, or created an internet solution that doesn't exist?"


I think I know what they mean by "hack a web site", and I can say "No" to that in that I've never cracked a web site... though at work I've had to "reverse engineer" some of our web applications or repurpose them for a different class/program, and if you define "hacking" as "innovatively adapting," that probably qualifies.

But, anyway... what does it mean to "create an internet solution that doesn't exist"?

Like, "Are you a web developer"? No, but I've worked on web applications.

Or "Have you built things that no longer exist"? Well, that PostNuke site I ran a few years ago isn't around anymore. And that old ColdFusion stuff probably isn't running now...

Or maybe they mean "Have you created something that didn't really exist, but existed only in your mind?" And it was a mental brain-teaser, like "Can God make a rock heavier than He can lift?"

Regardless, I "failed the test," because she said I wasn't a good candidate for the study.

(That was after she put me on hold to ask her supervisor what that last question was supposed to mean.)

And, really, we'd gone through all the questions -- down to the "do you or your family work for a retailer or electronics firm," which is either right up front or right at the end of these kinds of surveys.

So, head's up to the rest of you geeks out there... if a research firm asks you whether you've "created a solution that doesn't exist," the appropriate answer isn't "That doesn't make any sense." The right answer might be "Yes," or it might be "No," but whatever I said, I think I answered wrong.


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