Add option for anonymous surveys in Survey123 web designer

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03-04-2022 08:57 AM
Status: Open
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Caitlin_Dickinson
New Contributor III

Anonymously submitted surveys are an important use case of Survey123 in our organization. For example, university researchers may need to protect the identity of those submitting responses, but want to limit it to a specific group,  or we may send out surveys to collect anonymous feedback, and want to ensure users feel safe providing honest answers (echoed here). 

While publicly-shared surveys allow anonymous users to submit responses, if a user is signed into an ArcGIS Online organization via Survey123 in their browser window, it will record their username in the editor tracking fields of the hosted feature layer by default. As the editor tracking fields are not exposed by default in the Data tab of Survey123, survey owners may not even realize this is happening. 

To avoid recording usernames in the underlying hosted feature service, surveys published via the web designer require the following steps, which to my knowledge are only documented in answers to Esri Community posts

  • Change the settings of the hosted feature layer by deselecting “keep track of who created and last updated features”
  • Manually delete the “Editor” and “Creator” fields from the hosted feature layer

Unfortunately, deleting these fields breaks the ability to update the “Share results” tab, as the service definition cannot be updated (error: “invalid definition for 'EditorTrackingInfo”). Additionally, anytime the survey is republished, this configuration would be erased. 

The idea: have an option when creating a survey in the web designer to make all submissions anonymous (no editor tracking), regardless of the sharing setting (public, organization, group). While this might limit what submitters could do (obviously anything that requires tracking), it would ensure survey owners clearly know when usernames are being recorded or not. Additionally, as it is recommended to control sharing and privileges through the collaborate tab, it would make sense to incorporate this option directly into the web designer, rather than having users make changes to the underlying feature service, which can cause unexpected issues down the line (such as the issue cited above with "Share results"). 

I’ll add that this would be particularly helpful for our organization members (of which there are 7000+)  that are not power users of Survey123 or ArcGIS Online (and may not be familiar with the inner workings of editor tracking), but are utilizing this great tool for their research or teaching.