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Issues editing an open survey

Jess Henderson -

This article explains why there are certain parts of your survey that are no longer editable after the start date has passed.

On the Edit Activity Details form, there are three fields that can't be edited if the start date of the activity has passed and the end date has not yet been reached.  These are:

  • The activity URL
  • The Public/Private status of the activity
  • The owner of the activity

Why are these not editable?

Making a change to any of these fields can result in the survey's URL changing.  If the URL changes, there are implications for any respondents who are viewing or responding to it:

  • If a survey becomes private, anyone who tries to access it on its old public URL (eg from a bookmark, a link in an email, or because they're currently looking at it when it changes) will see a 'Not Found' error message instead.
  • If a survey's URL changes for any other reason, respondents will be redirected to the new location rather than seeing a 'Not Found' error.  However, if they are in the middle of filling in an online survey, they will lose all the answers they have already filled out.  This is the main reason that URL changes need to be done with great caution. This doesn't apply to save-and-return links, which will still work and redirect to the survey's new location.

Why can't I change the owner?  What's that got to do with the URL?

If a survey is assigned to a new owner, it may also be moved into that owner's department.  Since the department name forms part of the URL, this has the same effect as changing the survey's URL directly.

But my survey hasn't yet been published. Why does the start date matter?

Citizen Space has no way of distinguishing between a survey that has been published and retracted again, and one that has never been published.

Since it's critical not to lose the responses of anyone who is part-way through filling in a survey, the safest option is for Citizen Space to assume that respondents could have seen (and started to fill in) a survey at any point after its start date.

A note on best practice: if you're editing a draft survey that has never been published and the start date has already passed, it's likely that the start date has been set incorrectly. A survey should be published on or before its start date, otherwise respondents may wonder why it's not publicly visible on the date it was supposed to start.

If you're aware of the issues listed above, but still want or need to make changes (to edit the url, change the public/private status, change the owner or move the survey to a new owner in a new department), it is possible to do so. You'll need to do the following:

  1. Retract the survey.
  2. Change the start date to a day in the future, and save.
  3. Make the required change.
  4. Change the start date back to what it was previously, save, and republish.

Read more about moving surveys to another department

Read more about changing the survey owner