People closed my question as too broad titled How are “focus groups” done? but in the question I go on to ask 2 very simple, specific questions about focus groups:

  1. Who are these people, how are they gathered?

  2. Do people have jobs to act as focus group attendees or are there agents in charge of going out and finding completely random people of specific or distributed demographic groups?

@JohnGB claimed that these questions would take an entire book to answer. How then, John, were they answered in 2 paragraphs. An answer wasn't just summarized. It perfectly and objectively answered both questions successfully.

"How are they done?" was just a word choice that summed up the question, which seems to be what a title should generally be.

I feel that it is wrong for people to close this question, because it was actually very specific, very simple, and had a good accepted answer which answered both questions perfectly:

There are companies that run focus groups. I've been selected to attend a few of them, as has my spouse. Usually an ad is placed somewhere and people are vetted in a phone interview or online survey. The vetting process chooses people in the target demographic for the group. (such as "people caring for a family member with cancer" or "women who have remodeled their kitchen in the past 3 years" or "men between the ages of 30-45 who are thinking about purchasing a van in the next 12-18 months"). Sometimes the groups are rather broad, sometimes extremely specific. They are usually paid for their time, and the payment is quite generous.

The group is brought together and shown various things and is asked questions about them. Products, options and features, advertising, etc.

A focus group is generally geared toward product/feature development or marketing and advertising (I once sat in on a focus group for Celebrex ads, for example).

That is different from a user test, where people fitting the different user personas are brought in to try different interfaces or tasks. User testing is ideally done in a lab of some sort, with sophisticated eye tracking and/or video recording (and screen capture) equipment. Of course, user testing can also take place under much more modest circumstances, and often does since many companies don't want to spend the resources to conduct expensive and detailed user testing.

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    The question wasn't closed. It was simply put On Hold temporarily to give you a chance to make some amends. John is correct that it's a broad enough topic for there to be whole books about it so it might just be the question title itself that can be narrowed. On Hold questions are easily changed to Open ones. Just a quick edit will add it automatically to the 'reopen' queue for people to judge for themselves.
    – JonW Mod
    Feb 26, 2015 at 14:55
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    My intention of putting it on hold, was to give you a chance to edit it. Yes, the content is more focused, but the title sets up the expectation. If titles don't match the question, then that itself is a problem. I think it has potential to be a good question with just a few tweaks to it, and hope that you do that.
    – JohnGB Mod
    Feb 27, 2015 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


First, thanks for taking the effort to make your case here.

I think the question, as currently written, has the following problems:

  1. The title is too broad. Titles do matter because they are weighted heavily in search, so an overly broad title has the consequence of drawing a lot of false hits and wasting time for folks in the future. Particularly when it can be rephrased easily, e.g. "selection process for focus groups"

  2. Even if #1 is fixed, your question showed no attempt to do any background research on a question that is very well covered by articles, books, blogs, websites, tools, and companies. SE is not a great venue for "lazy, broad questions" because you are essentially asking others to do a simple google search for you.

I think your question can be fixed if you go address the 2 issues above. People want to help here, and will spend valuable time doing so. But to solicit this time, a question has to be reasonably phrased and show a reasonable amount of effort and thoughtfulness on the asker's part before one demands time from the community. It's more than a fair quid pro quo given the $0 price.

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