Microsoft Forms is a flexible tool that lets you gather and analyze a wide variety of information from an audience. Sometimes it’s important for survey respondents to be anonymous, which is when the anonymous survey feature in Microsoft Forms comes in handy.
Anonymous surveys collect information without connecting each response to any identifying information about the person responding. These forms can be useful for voting on issues, providing feedback, and gathering information for other purposes.
Here’s how to create an anonymous survey in Microsoft Forms.
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Getting started with anonymous surveys
The process of creating an anonymous survey in Microsoft Forms is simple.
Begin by creating a new form and adding the questions you want to ask. Then, navigate to the Settings pane in the upper right. Under the heading Who can fill out this form, you’ll see a checkbox marked Record name. If you uncheck this box, Forms will not record names or email addresses for respondents, keeping their answers anonymous.
In 2018, Microsoft Forms also added the ability to limit responses to one per person while also keeping the identity of each respondent anonymous, writes Microsoft senior project manager Zhongzhong Li.
To do that, navigate to the Settings pane within Forms. Under Who can fill out this form, make sure to check the box beside One response per person but leave the box next to Record name unchecked. Microsoft Forms will then record a hash key identifying the Office 365 account of the respondent, but the form won’t attach the respondent’s name or email address to their response, writes Li.
You can also create anonymous surveys in Forms via Microsoft Teams. One benefit of using Teams to manage Forms surveys, anonymous or otherwise, is that collected data is immediately available to the entire team. Rather than having one person responsible for collecting and sharing survey information, the whole team can access and use it, writes Steve Goodman at Practical 365.
It’s important to remember that if you set a survey to be anonymous, you won’t be able to connect responses to an individual at a later date. If the Record name box isn’t checked, Microsoft Forms won’t gather names and email addresses at all, writes Microsoft Tech Community contributor Cian Allner. There will be no way to connect responses to the person who submitted them, even if you need to — for instance, if you use the form for a prize drawing or contest.
Choosing the right tools for anonymous surveys
“Online surveys have remained among the most popular tools used by market researchers for the last several years,” notes Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research. Online surveys came into their own in the late 2010s, and dozens of new options for creating and using them are now available.
Understanding how to create an anonymous survey in Microsoft Forms can be valuable for a number of reasons. Many companies use Microsoft tools, including Forms, for various tasks. If your organization uses other Microsoft tools, it may be the right choice for gathering information without connecting each response to an identified respondent.
Microsoft Forms isn’t the best option for every user, though. The cost of a Microsoft Office subscription can be daunting for some new users, for example, and you’ll need a business or educational institution account to access the anonymous form feature. Fortunately, free tools also exist that allow you to collect information and keep respondents’ identities anonymous.
One such alternative is Jotform. Like Microsoft Forms, Jotform lets you create anonymous surveys. Unlike Microsoft Forms, Jotform doesn’t require you to dive into the form’s settings or have a paid account in order to ensure answers are anonymous.
To make a Jotform survey anonymous, simply leave out fields that collect identifying information, like names or email addresses. Start by providing any introduction or directions your respondents need for the survey, then jump right into the questions you want them to answer. Jotform will collect and display the results without providing any identifying information the respondents didn’t provide themselves.
Anonymous surveys can play a vital role in collecting information without revealing the identities of those who responded to the survey. By creating anonymous surveys, you can get the answers you need without compromising privacy.