Polling tools built into the design for a variety of uses

One of the most promising aspects of social news is its ability to harness the collective intelligence of the crowd. The more users that participate in a community, the more powerful its ability to sift and organize the information being fed into it. But what if a community wanted to direct that intelligence in a more focused way? What if instead of just using it to rank content relative to a general subject they wanted to direct it towards something more specific like a question or a decision? Creating a whole new community to rank the answers to something so specific would be impractical and offer little help in analyzing the data, yet being able to focus collective intelligence in this way has the potential to offer a huge number of powerful benefits to users and communities alike.

For this reason, we have decided to introduce polls as an integrated feature of the site. We believe this tool could be used for a wide variety of new purposes in social news communities including but not limited to:
  • Group decision making - electing moderators, voting on the rules or design of a branch, deciding on dates for community events etc.
  • Setting up scalable competitions
  • Processing complex debates and allowing every side of an argument to be heard
  • Collating and ranking resources - educational materials, memes, products, services etc.
  • Better facilitating interaction and feedback with large user bases

On every wall on the platfrom, users have the option to filter content by its type. By selecting 'Polls' from the 'Post Type' drop down list, the wall is updated to show all of the top polls that have been submitted to that branch. Once clicked on, the design of each poll would take a simple format and include three subsections:

1. Vote
Under the first 'Vote' tab users can browse and filter the list of answers that have been submitted to the poll. The creator of the poll could decide to leave the answers open to the public so other users can submit their own or lock them so only the poll creator can submit the answers. Users browsing the poll can then search and ‘cast their vote’ by selecting their preferred answer.

2. Discussion
The Discussion tab contains a standard comment thread for the poll, the same as comment threads on other post types. In the future we plan to add in the additional ability for users to filter comments by their authors vote on the poll. Rather than being limited to the most popular comments across the board, it would then be possible to search for the top comments from users who voted for each of the different answers within the poll. This would be of particular use in debates where the less popular opinions can easily be lost due to lack of representation but would make browsing through different positions of any discussion easier.

3. Results
Lastly, the Results section would contain a breakdown of the results from the poll with the data displayed as a pie chart and a scrollable list with the answers ranked by popularity. In the future we also plan to add in a time graph revealing how opinions have changed over time and give users the ability to filter the results using other advanced metrics where available, such as user's age, gender, location, and the branches they follow.

Below is a gif sequence illustrating some of the possible uses for this polling feature:

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