In total sixty-seven people took part, not terribly representative of fandom as a whole, but nonetheless interesting.
Just to clarify for the purposes of this by 'genre' I mean slash (both m/m and f/f), het and gen.
I have quoted the numbers as given, although as it can be seen there is a small discrepancy, as a couple of people seem to have answered Q2 when they should have answered Q3 and vice versa.
Question 1 asked: Assuming that your other 'requirements' for reading a story (e.g. fandom, pairing, writing style, name of author, etc), are satisfied, does genre matter to you when reading fanfiction?
The results were as follows:
25 (37.3%) answered 'No, not at all. I read in any genre'.
38 (56.7%) answered 'I mainly read in one genre. However, I will read others if I know the author/the story is recommended/etc'.
4 (6.0%) answered 'Yes. I only read in one genre'.
It was the answer to this question that surprised me most of all, or rather the relatively high number of people who answered 'No, not at all. I read in any genre'. The reason for my surprise was that in private emails and list/small group email conversations, most people said that genre did matter. In fact I was also slightly surprised by the low number of people who only read in one genre, I had expected this to be higher.
Thus, I looked more deeply into this particular question and found that the vast majority of people who answered this way (19) were not people whom I know at all. And of the remaining 6, although I 'knew' 2 of them from lists prior to getting a LJ, I didn't know on a personal email exchange level.
Question 2 asked: If you selected option 2 above (i.e. you read mainly in one genre) which genre is that?
The results were as follows:
34 (87.2%) answered 'Slash'
3 (7.7%) answered 'Gen'
2 (5.1%) answered 'Het'
Question 3 asked: If you selected option 3 above (i.e I only read in one genre) which genre is that?
All 4 people who selected this option stated 'Slash' as being the genre they read.
Several people commented to say that their choice actually depends on the fandom/pairing, i.e. in one they might just read slash, in another they might just read gen, in another they might read anything - and with the benefit of hindsight, I should have made this another answer to Q1. In fact by not doing so I realised that actually I couldn't answer the question with total honesty myself, because when I do read outside of my main pairings (and I only read slash within them), I too find it depends on the pairing/fandom. For example I do read the odd bit of het, but not stories that involve, beyond a mention in passing, both of my actual pairing. I have also in the past read gen, when the stories have been particularly recommended, and that was within my pairings.
The fandoms/pairings didn't reveal any particular pattern as far as genre reading habits went. There were sole fandom/pairing people who read in any genre, just as there were sole fandom/pairing people who only read in one genre, and who mainly read in one. Ditto, there were multi-fandom/pairing people who did the same thing.
So although overall this poll revealed that most people read mainly in one genre (and that genre is slash), but might read outside of that genre if a story was recommended and/or they knew the author, the results were not as conclusive as I was expecting prior to running the poll. The relatively high number of people for whom genre does not matter and the low number who only read in one genre, did indeed surprise me.
Thank you to those of you who took part in the poll and/or commented.