Redeployed with new choice list, do not understand output


I have an issue with understanding the data output from a form.

I uploaded a form with a select_multiple question. Then, after some responses came in, I was appraised of the need to edit the choice list and add a new choice to the TOP of the list. Our data structure demands that our choice data names be numbers, so basically, the change looks like this:

Apples = 1
Oranges = 2
Bananas = 3

Apples = 2
Oranges = 3
Bananas = 4

I know this system is bad and creates confusion, but it was out of my hands.

Since the change was small, I did it in the editor instead of uploading a new form (my mistake for changing methods, I guess).

Problem 1 (just feedback for Kobo): The editor automatically renamed my today and start columns to the default name without telling me, so I have two columns I have to merge with that data. I can merge them, I can live with it, I wish this would not have happened. This is just feedback.

Problem 2 (The actual issue i need to resolve): When I edited the choice list, it started outputting responses with underscores, and I cannot find anywhere in the documentation where it is explained what they mean.

I will get 2_1 or 4_1, on all the answers with the new version. The automatic disambiguation of choices into binary by the Kobo downloader also created a whole extra set of columns with the _1 versions of the choices


I do not know what this underscore indicates, if it means that it refers to the order in the new list, or if it refers to a conversion I have to make so that the old and new lists match. My question is:

If in version 1, Apples = 1, Oranges = 2
And in version 2, Pears = 1, Apples = 2, Oranges = 3

If the ver2 response is 2_1, does it mean Pears or Apples?

Also, I want to mention that for a further update, I reflected the change in my actual form and reuploaded, and the form went back to just giving me the choice numbers that I assigned like I wanted, with no underscores, which is fine, because I can follow my original plan to just use a timestamp to figure out what version of the list the numbers refer to.

This means that this underscore thing I am not understanding comes directly from having made the edit in the online Kobo form editor.

Can anyone clear up what the underscores mean?

I would start by first defining the main issue which from a data management perspective, was a major error of omission on your end.

On the issue with the underscores, you need to know that your download indicated get data from all form versions. So to ensure that the data integrity is maintained, the form automatically keeps thee first deployed version’s variables/questions as they were and then amends the variable to account for the second version as an underscore 1 as you may have noticed. Please note that 2_1 means Apples for version two. Since 1_1 will mean pears, 2_1 apples, 3_1 Oranges etc.

So in essence, the form noticed that you applied different value labels to the same value. It thus needed to account for this issue. This, therefore, takes us back to my very first opening remarks about the data management.


1 Like

Thank you @stephanealoo,

I am indeed aware that this issue comes from bad data management practices, and mentioned as much in my post.

Thank you, I am aware of this as well, because if I only do the “latest version”, the answers are simply blank, which is why I have to do “all version”.

Thank you, this is what I needed to know.

Have a great day! And thank you very much always for your attention and quick responses.