What is your primary email?

Finally an interesting poll on Facebook. As opposed to usual “what is your favorite lollipop flavor” this time they asked what is people primary email. According to the info on the website they closed the survey at 1000 respondents sampled from all their users. 51.6% of the respondents were female and 46.5% of ages 18-24. Although we don’t really know what is the age/gender distribution of Facebook users is, the results are still amusing.

First of all, Hotmail appears as the leading email provider for most Facebookers. Almost 40% prefer it over Yahoo (21%) and Gmail (16%). You can click the image to see it in a readable size.


I am a bit surprised with Gmail underperformance, but gender specific results are even more curious. According to this poll, males prefer Gmail over Yahoo, and even in the leading Hotmail, female preference is the dominant one. I think this is really interesting, especially given that the difference is so big, but i cannot think of potential explanation. Any ideas?


The age split is also interesting. For example it seems like Google has a relatively stronger presence among ages 18-34, while younger people prefer Yahoo.


Of course nothing too definite can be derived from these polls, but i still find these results interesting. Don’t you think?

Not really, but kind of related. I tried to look for any information about the actual population that Facebook surveys, because apparently they are charging for those polls. Of course on the poll help page there is no information about it, except for a disclaimer that Facebook does not verify the statistic validity of their results. However, there is a curious passage regarding the appropriate ways to source data. Here it is:

“When sourcing the results of a poll, cite “Facebook Polling” and not “Facebook” generally. For example, “According to a survey conducted by XYZ on Facebook Polling, 80 percent of respondents…” and, “Facebook Polling users responded that they are more likely to…” are appropriate statements, whereas “According to a Facebook survey…” and, “According to a survey of Facebook users…” are incorrect statements.”

And my question is why saying “according to a survey of facebook users” is an incorrect way to interpret the results? Are they surveying anyone outsede the facebook users database? Am I missing something?


8 Responses to “What is your primary email?”

  1. lisa Says:

    I think there disclaimer is aimed at avoiding the accusation that they don’t sample the entire facebook population just probably just a very small portion of it.

    I am tempted to come up with suggestions for some of the trends in the results but given it’s such a small sample size and we have no information about the gender and age of the sample (possibly dominated by young, female USA students) I’ll hold off :)

    Another related comment coming in email because it won’t make sense to other readers…

  2. Dima Says:

    I think we all know that we can’t generalize from these results, but wouldn’t it be fun to hear the speculations about potential explanations? Please share your suggestions! :)

  3. lisa Says:

    I think I spoke too soon — I see on Facebook that you can see the breakdown of respondents by age and sex at least, if not by location.

    Here goes for a wild speculation — just addressing the question about the popularity of Gmail overall and by gender… First I have to make four assertions:
    1. For the three 18+ age categories, Gmail wasn’t around in time to be their first primary email address so required a change from something else.
    2. The main competitors to Gmail are Hotmail and Yahoo mail, which were well established before Gmail.
    3. Gmail is superior in almost every way to Hotmail (and probably Yahoo mail too).
    4. Most people who’s primary email address is Gmail switched to it from either Hotmail or Yahoo mail.
    Is it possible that more men than men are willing to go to the effort of changing their email address to enjoy the superior benefits of Gmail over Hotmail/Yahoo mail?

  4. Angela Says:

    I don’t agree with all of the above assertions, but the last question is interesting. There are studies about gender differences in technology that indicate that men are more likely to try new features/explore applications than women, and even beyond the point of increases in productivity. Maybe there *is* a lower threshold for men, when it comes to abandoning a known technique or application for a new one. It doesn’t mean that men recognize Google as superior while women do not, however, and while I like my gmail account, I’m certainly not convinced it’s better for everyone than other systems.

    We should also remember that gmail was invite only for a fairly long time, so propagation would have been slower and confined to those inclined to be kept informed about technology advancements. There’s probably a gender difference in this, as well.

    And, again, generalizations are awful here because, well, even if it was a survey of all facebook users, our assumption that people who are likely to have switched to gmail are well represented on facebook is not necessarily valid. Yahoo in particular has had a messaging service much longer than Google, so maybe it makes sense that Yahoo users would also be interested in a social networking site.

    But I could ramble on about this for a while. I’ll stop now.

  5. Vinay Says:

    Gmail is the best…read on why I think so…

  6. Dima Says:

    Thanks for the comment Vinay. I read your post and had another discussion of pros and cons of Gmail today. I think you are correct in some of the points, but i would disagree with you on some (related to Gmails pros). I am using Gmail myself, probably mostly because of the POP3 abilities, the storage space, and spam filter. But i am not sure that the labels is that much better of a solution + after experiencing a major glitch with their service, i have doubts about their reliability.

  7. Leonid Says:

    >I am using Gmail myself, probably mostly because of the POP3 abilities, the storage space, and spam filter.

    Funny that you say that. I can see only one major disadvantage in gmail as a mail provider (well, only one after the rumoured addition of IMAP) — their spam filter and the fact that you can’t turn it off. I can do my own spam filtering, thank you very much.

  8. Dima Says:

    Yes, i read about IMAP only yesterday. It kind of makes things better.

    As to the spam filter, i had the same view as yours when i was using BGU email account. They had a huge percentage of false positives. But with google i am actually happy with the results.

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