Calling IFTTT users to participate in an academic user study! Participants receive $5 and a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card! [US residents only]

We’re a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducting a study on end-user programming. The purpose of this voluntary user study is to collect information about the habits and behavior of IFTTT users to better understand a user’s considerations when deciding to use or create an applet, and how those applets can interact with each other. Since we want to study applets as they relate to an individual user, you will be asked to log on to IFTTT and install a Chrome extension (published on the webstore) to collect your list of applets (the extension will be automatically deleted once the list of applets are collected). This will allow us to ask you specific questions about your applet instantiations and how they interact, as well as general questions about your applet collection and your attitudes when choosing them. No personal information is collected. If you start the survey, you will first be presented with a consent form containing more details of the study, as well as the contact information of the researchers.

If you complete the survey, you will receive a $5 Amazon gift card and be entered in a drawing to win a $50 Amazon gift card, with at least one winner for every 10 respondents. To participate, you must be a US resident, over 18 years of age, and regularly use IFTTT. The survey must be taken using the Chrome browser. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to send a message.

Here is the link to the survey:

Sounds interesting. Was this study reviewed by your institutional review board?

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Yes, it did the consent form has the IRB number approved by CMU.


The link is activated please feel free to participate.

Please consider participating. We could use your help in understanding what considerations a user makes when deciding to use or create an applet.

Still looking for more folks for participation.

After the CA debacle, I wouldn’t even sign up.

While you concerns are rightfully valid we hope that some people will take the study and help our research regardless (we are not collecting any personal data but are rather trying to create more awareness about IFTTT usage and side-effects, something that will be evident if you look at the questions; also we do go through IRBs). Thanks!

Probably not a valid comparison. Unless they ask you to install a Facebook app.

Edit: Nm, I forgot they said they ask you to download a chrome extension. Not sure I’d want to take a chance either.


Ya sorry. If I were any of you I would error on the side of caution, whether it’s legitimate or not.

cmu does use qualtrics so it’s probably valid, but in the end you have no idea what information is being obtained and used for whatever purposes.

We are seeing more of this lately out here in the community.

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Thanks for all the discussion!

Are there anything specific questions we can answer to build your confidence on the study?

The reason we use the extension is that the questions we ask are different based on the specific actions and triggers that are used in the applets. We understand that installing an extension causes concern (as it should!), but the only other option would be to ask participants to manually enter the applet descriptions (what are the trigger and action events) which also doesn’t seem too practical. Again our research purpose is to help users make more informed decision about the applets they currently use or intend to use.

Not from my perspective and not in this day and age when too much information is being stolen and used for negative purposes.

I believe that your study is probably legitimate, but that doesn’t change the fact that nobody knows what information you gather and what that information could be used for later. Nothing you can say changes that.

You might get some people on board if you give them a $50 Amazon gift card ahead of time (before the study) that they can retrieve from Amazon directly without going thru any of your links. That might build some trust for some people. Even you gave me a $500 card up front, I wouldn’t participate for my reasons above. :slight_smile:

But I wish you luck with your study.

You could also give links to the Carnegie Mellon University official home page that allows them to reach your study directly from the official University site so that they know this is truly legitimate. That may help you out a bit.


Yes we do have a study description under the domain :slight_smile:
Here is that link

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Speaking just for myself, I’m not doing the survey because I don’t want to give away the information about what my applets are or how they are used or how often they are used.

I suspect you will find that quite a few real world users use IFTTT to tie together applets which then either expose their location patterns or reveal parts of their security system. So they are not likely to participate.

This is an ongoing issue for anyone attempting to research home automation habits, I don’t know of a good answer to it.


It’s interesting, though, that by using these platforms like IFTTT and ST, we’re agreeing to give up exactly this information.

Granted, it’s for the actual service they provide, which presumably has some value/benefit to the user.

But these companies have proven over and over again that many of them will fail to meaningfully safeguard what we consider to be private data, sometimes spectacularly so.

People rarely end up benefiting directly from research studies like this, but chances are the data being collecting is at least as safe from abuse as it would be in Samsung’s hands. Or maybe safer.


We have changed our reward scheme!
Now every participant receives a $5 Amazon gift card along with a chance to win a $50 raffle (I know this isn’t much but this is what we could get approved following institutional guidelines. BTW, we have sent out our initial $5 gift cards to those who had participated in the past).
If you are still interested please participate.