Millisecond Forums

Possible bug - mouse cursor disappears on survey pages with textboxes

By AKrishna - 5/14/2018

Hi all,

sorry if this has already been posted, but I couldn't find any relevant topics. In our recent online studies, we have noticed that the mouse cursor may disappear on survey pages with textboxes when a character is entered into the textbox. Although moving the mouse usually resolves the issue, sometimes the cursor remains gone, meaning participants cannot click on the continue button. Until now, we have solved this issue by including a note that this issue may occur and instructing participants to use the Tab key to switch to the Continue button and the Enter key to continue. However, the issue has now occurred in a textbox which accepts Tab as an input, meaning one cannot switch to the Continue button. This is obviously a problem - although my own testing indicates that the mouse cursor reappears when one blindly moves it over a survey element (the textbox or the continue button), I'm not sure if this is the case on every system and it is also a suboptimal solution for our online studies, where participants may not wait to read workaround instructions and instead drop out. 

I'm attaching a script with this issue. I should also note that the mouse cursor seems to disappear consistently for me when I enter a character, but it mostly reappears as soon as it's moved. In about one of five cases up to now, though, the mouse has remained gone until I hit a survey element on the exact same system with the exact same setup. Is this a known issue and is there anything I can do about it? I suppose I could include hidden stimuli that cover the entire screen if it's just a matter of making the mouse hit a stimulus element, but I would prefer not to have to if possible.



Author: Anand Krishna (krishna[at]
Last updated: 18-04-2018

Demographics file

############### 1. Instructions ###############

/ font = ("Courier New", -20, 800, 0, 49)
/ inputdevice = keyboard
/ nextkey = (" ")
/ lastlabel = "Press the spacebar to continue"
/ prevlabel = "Press the 't' key to go back"
/ prevkey = ("t")

<page WelcomeInstructions>

Welcome to this experiment.^^

Before you start, please:^^

– switch off phone/e-mail/music & anything else distracting^^
- please have your Prolific ID ready [It can be found in your account info]^^

############### 2. Blocks ###############

<block begin>
/ preinstructions = (WelcomeInstructions)
/ screencolor = (0, 0, 0)
/ trials = [1 = info_1; 2= info_2; 3 = info_3; 4 = info_4; 5 = loadingwarning]

############### 3. Questionnaire pages ###############

## age

<surveypage info_1>
/questions = [1=age]
/stimulustimes = [0 = mousegone]
/ showpagenumbers = false
/showquestionnumbers = false

<textbox age>
/mask = positiveinteger
/ caption = "What is your age:"
/range = (18,50)

<text mousegone>
/items = ("On some systems, the mouse cursor may disappear on this screen.
If it does not reappear when you move the mouse, you can use the Tab key to
select the Finish button and then press Enter to continue.")
/ fontstyle = ("Arial", 1%)
/position = (22%,24%)
/halign = center
/txbgcolor = black
/txcolor = white

## gender

<surveypage info_2>
/questions = [1= gender]
/ showpagenumbers = false
/showquestionnumbers = false

<dropdown gender>
/ caption = "What is your gender"
/ options = ("male", "female", "other")

## country

<surveypage info_3>
/questions = [1=Country]
/ showpagenumbers = false
/showquestionnumbers = false

<textbox Country>
/ caption = "What is your country of residence"
/ position = (10%,10%)
/ textboxsize = (45, 20)

## Prolific Code

<surveypage info_4>
/questions = [1=ProlificCode]
/ showpagenumbers = false
/showquestionnumbers = false

<textbox ProlificCode>
/ caption = " Please enter your Prolific ID here
(if you cannot remember it, please quit the experiment now
and retrieve it before continuing). Otherwise you cannot be paid."
/ position = (10%,10%)
/ textboxsize = (45, 20)
/ multiline = true

## Loading Warning

<trial loadingwarning>
/stimulustimes = [0 = loadwarning]
/validresponse = (" ")
/recorddata = false

<text loadwarning>
/items = ("Required files for this experiment will now be downloaded. Only files required to execute the experiment will be downloaded. None of these files pose any security risk to your computer.

The experiment may take several minutes to load, please be patient.

Press the SPACE BAR to continue.")
/ fontstyle = ("Arial", 3%)
/valign = bottom
/size = (90%,10%)
/txbgcolor = black
/txcolor = white

/ file = "ManikinCompletionTest1.dat"
/columns = [script.startdate, script.starttime, script.subjectid, textbox.ProlificCode.response]

############### 4. Creating the page ###############

## defaults
/ screencolor = (255, 255, 255)
/ font = ("Arial", -21, 700, 0, 34)
/ txcolor = (255, 255, 255)
/ inputdevice = keyboard
/ validkeys = (" ", "t")
/ halign = center
/ Com1BaudRate =9600

## Experiment: block or
/ blocks = [1 = block1]

/group = (1 of 1) (block1 = begin)

By thv - 2/7/2019

I've been consistently having the same issue, and haven't solved it, but had some ideas for workarounds.
(Though I think its just an inherent bug in inquisit - it would be great if that could be fixed! Smile )

1) Easiest solution: I avoid using textboxes if at all possible, and instead will put each question that requires a textbox as an openended trial element on its own page.
Then I turn off mouse input (only keyboard allowed), and tell people to press enter (or control enter, if multiline responses are allowed). 
As far as I know you can't do this for survey pages though

<openended english_years>
/ stimulusframes=[1=english_years]
/ inputdevice = keyboard
/ numlines = 1
/ linelength = 20
/ buttonlabel = "Press ENTER to continue."

2) If you must use a textbox/surveypage, make sure the textbox is not the first question they have to respond to (captions don't count).
As others have pointed out, on survey pages, after you type in a textbox, the mouse will only appear after you move it over something clickable (e.g. the same or another textbox, the continue button, another question's response such as an option for a radiobuttons element or dropdown list).
When the textbox is not the first question, you actually have to click on the textbox to get the cursor there (vs it just appearing there by default if its the first question). This means that after you type, your mouse will still likely be over the textbox, so it will reappear when you move your mouse to try answer the next question.

3) This one is pretty silly, but may help.
I had one textbox at the top of the screen and the continue button at the bottom, with a large blank space in the middle, so randomly moving the mouse made it hard to move over something clickable.
To increase the chance of randomly moving the mouse over a clickable object, I created a second checkbox question where the response filled much of the blank space, and then made it invisible to people (the text is transparent, and the position of the actual checkbox is off the left side of the screen)

Issues with this are that if your fake question's response overlaps at all with your real questions' responses or the continue button, it will cause issues for making those responses.
If you know your screen size you can move stuff around until it doesn't overlap, but I'm not sure if it will cause issues for online studies where people may have different screen sizes etc. (You may be able to control it through the defaults for screen size and aspect ratio, etc, but I haven't played around with it).

<checkboxes background>
/ txcolor = transparent
/ position = (-30%,40%)
/ fontstyle = ("Arial", 10%, false, false, false, false, 5)
/ required = false

4) For cases where the mouse disappears at the start of the task and you can't click anything, I think with inquisit web links, this may happen if people click on something in the background while the task is loading. Not super sure about this one though.