Hello! If you've reached this page, it's probably because you've been invited to participate in the Tor strategy survey. On this page, we've tried to anticipate and answer any questions you might have :)

What surveys is Tor conducting and what is their purpose?

Tor is running three surveys designed to help inform the strategy it's currently developing. One is called the "core survey": it covers the Tor Project's future strategy, and focuses mainly on technology, product development, and funding. The second survey asks about the Tor's Project internal operations. The third covers Tor community health issues.

Who is being invited to participate in the surveys?

Tor has several mailing lists whose subscribers are closely involved with the Tor Project, and invitations to all three surveys will be sent to those lists. Additionally, about 100 people will be individually invited to participate in the core strategy survey. Those people include Tor relay operators, academic researchers, security experts, members of Tor-related projects such as Freenet and I2P, funders and potential funders, and people who work in the policy, legal and advocacy spaces related to privacy, security and anonymity.

How did I get invited to participate?

Over the past several months, Sue has been working with the core Tor community to develop a list of people whose opinions they value and are most curious about. There are about 100 names on that list. About half are people the Tor Project knows personally, and about half are public figures, most well-known in the privacy/security world. If you got an invitation, that means the Tor Project thinks you'll have something valuable to say, and would very much appreciate your input :)

If I got a forwarded invitation, call I still fill out the survey?

Yes. There are a couple of reasons you might have gotten a forwarded invitation. 1) Some Tor community members felt uncomfortable giving out other people's contact information and plan to forward the invitation instead. 2) For some people, we couldn't easily find contact information by the time we launched the survey. If we find it later, we'll forward them the invitation then. And 3) In the invitation, we ask recipients to feel free to forward it with one or two others, on the principle that they will likely know additional people whose perspective would be useful for Tor.

Why did I get multiple invitations?

See above. It's annoying to get multiple invitations, but on the other hand, it also means that multiple people think your perspective is valuable :)

Will I get other future email from Tor now? Am I on some kind of list now?

No. The survey invitation list will be deleted after the invitations go out, and the email addresses on it won't be shared with anyone.

When are the surveys running?

The surveys will launch at the end of July and will be closed in mid-August.

What tool is Tor using?


Why isn't Tor using an open-source alternative to SurveyMonkey?

We wanted to, but it turned out that SurveyMonkey was the tool that best met our needs. We wanted something simple and user-friendly. And SurveyMonkey's privacy and security policies seemed reasonably good.

Who wrote the questionnaires?

The questionnaires were written by Sue Gardner. About a dozen Tor people gave Sue feedback on draft versions, and afterwards she made refinements based on their input, which helped ensure the results would be as relevant and useful as possible. The questionnaires were also vetted and refined by a few people with expertise in survey design and community engagement. Before launch, six people tested the surveys for clarity and usability.

Why is there a survey focused on operations?

The operations survey asks how people feel about the Tor Project's internal operations -- e.g., hiring, communications, benefits, etc. It's normal for organizations to do this kind of survey on a semi-regular basis, but this is the first time Tor has done one. Probably the results of the first survey of this kind won't be tremendously useful: they will get more useful as subsequent surveys are conducted, and it becomes possible to track change over time.

Why is there a survey focused on community health?

The community health survey asks how people feel about the level of general health in the Tor community. The Tor Project understands that people in the Tor community may be subjected to unusual stress due to the nature of their work: that's why it's doing this survey. We think it's worth asking people how healthy they feel the community is, and soliciting their thoughts on how it could be strengthened.

Why did I get invited to the "core" survey, but not to the operations and community health surveys?

The core survey is intended for a broad group of people because it asks questions about the global context that Tor operates in, not just questions about Tor itself. The operations and community health surveys are about the internal workings of the Tor community, and so the number of people who can usefully help is smaller. If you feel like you're knowledgeable enough about the Tor Project to help with those surveys, and for some reason you didn't get an invitation, just ask anybody at Tor and they will send you one.

I didn't get invited to any of the surveys. How can I get an invitation?

If you're reading this page, your lack of invitation is probably an oversight ;) Just ask somebody at Tor (or Sue) to send you an invitation :)

How will the survey input be used?

The survey will help us understand what Tor community members, and onlookers, experts, supporters and critics, think about the strengths and weaknesses and opportunities and threats facing the Tor Project. To that end, Sue will analyse the results and see what turns up. Probably the input will confirm some assumptions the Tor Project already holds, but probably it will also be surprising in some ways. The input will lead to conversations --within the Tor Project leadership team, among core Tor people, inside the Tor Project board and across the larger Tor community-- that will ultimately inform the Tor strategy.

Does that mean the strategy will be directly driven by the survey results?

No. It'll be a major piece of input, but not the only one. So for example if the survey finds 100% of respondents think the Tor Project should focus solely on making the Tor browser more user-friendly, that doesn't mean that's what the strategy will say.

Will the survey results be published?

The raw survey data will not be published, nor will any full individual questionnaires. The majority of free-text input will not be published, although possibly some will be quoted in published reports (unless the writer has requested otherwise). However, quite a bit of the results will be published to the Tor community. We don't know yet exactly what form that will take.

When will the results be published?

Likely towards the end of August or early September.

How will confidentiality be handled?

The survey does not collect respondent IPs or email addresses. The only person who will see the full individual questionnaire input and all free-text input is Sue. In designing the survey, we tried to avoid asking for input that would risk making people individually identifiable, and Sue will not share any input she thinks might make someone identifiable. We have tried to avoid asking for sensitive personal information, and most survey questions are skippable. Once the survey is closed Sue plans to "permanently delete" the data from her account: SurveyMonkey says the data will then be fully purged from its system within 90 days.

What if someone doesn't want to use SurveyMonkey?

Anybody who doesn't want to use SurveyMonkey can email Sue their responses and she will include them in the aggregated results. Sue's email address is susanpgardner(at), and her public key is here

When will the strategy itself be completed?

We're not sure exactly when but it'll be sometime this winter. If you're curious to be informed when it's done, you can follow Tor's blog or Twitter account.

I have a question that's not answered here.

Please add the question to this page, or just mail susanpgardner(at)

Last modified 4 years ago Last modified on Jul 31, 2015, 12:31:46 AM