BOS - Online Surveys

powerful, flexible online surveys

My participants are seeing the message “The link you used to arrive at this page was malformed”. What does this mean?

There are two reasons your respondents may see an “invalid page” or “malformed link” message when trying to access your survey:


1.  Incorrect pre-populated information

If you are using pre-population parameters in your survey, the malformed link message usually means one or more of the following:

  1. The link your participant is using to access the survey has been split and some of the link text is missing.
  2. One (or more) of the pre-populated answers does not match one of the options on a multiple choice question (e.g. the answer options are “Yes” or “No” but the text you have provided in the pre-populated answer is “Y” or “N”)
  3. One (or more) of the pre-populated answers does not meet the validation requirements of a question (e.g. a free text question has a 5-character limit for its response, but the text you have provided in the pre-populated answer is longer than 5 characters)
  4. A question using a pre-populated parameter is both Required and Hidden, but no pre-populated answer has been provided.

What should I do?

If you cannot find an error in the pre-populated information, and you have checked the respondent’s personalised URL and it works for you, re-send the URL to the respondent in a plain text email.  This should minimise the chance of the URL being changed, split or affected in transit.  Alternatively, send the respondent the public URL and their username/password combination.

If there has been an error in the pre-population information that you have provided, you must amend this so that the affected respondent(s) can access the survey.

If the pre-population information has been provided in your respondent list (through survey access control), please see our Help article on Changing respondent details.

If you have used the URL generator to create your customised survey links (i.e. you have not supplied the pre-population information in your respondent list) then you must re-generate and re-distribute the customised links, ensuring that you provide all of the required information in the correct format when generating the URLs.

2.  Tracking information has been added to the link

Some external services (e.g. Google Analytics) add information to the end of links to track respondent activity.  This is not supported in BOS.  Any information appended to the end of a BOS survey link by an external service will be seen by BOS as an attempt to insert unauthorised information into the survey response data, or an attempt to access a survey without the correct credentials, and as a result the link will not work.

What should I do?

The relevant tracking services must be disabled when BOS survey links are distributed.  If you are not directly responsible for the distribution of your survey links (e.g. an external company or different department at your institution is distributing your survey links on your behalf), please contact the relevant person and ask them to disable the relevant services.