Free Open Source User Feedback with AllOurIdeas

I have been researching open source user feedback tools, and I stumbled upon a very nice app called AllOurIdeas.org. The app takes a novel approach to user feedback, allowing your audience to choose between two suggested answers that you “pre-seed” into the survey. This is great if you have already identified a few possible courses of action and you just want help from your user community in prioritizing them.

I used AllOurIdeas to create this quick reader poll for my blog, asking readers what kinds of content they would like to see more of here on TedCurran.net. (Please take it, BTW! I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

What makes it special?

It was designed by a Princeton professor as a new kind of data collection tool called a “wiki survey” that blends the benefits of surveys (easy to administer, “top down” questioning) with the benefits of interviews (letting users submit unexpected suggestions so they can “bubble up” into the survey). This flexibility lets users have a genuine voice in your decision making, and lets you capitalize on the good ideas in your community.

From a user experience perspective, the “either/or” format of the survey is much less intimidating than long multiple choice surveys like SurveyMonkey. This increases the likelihood that users will actually engage with your survey and give you good quality data (instead of just clicking through to get over with it). The survey doesn’t force users to “finish” ranking all possible choices– instead, it lets them choose their preference for as long as they’d wish to.

Some possible uses

It would be great for getting feedback from your community, helping you choose which areas of improvement you should prioritize. This could be used in your online course space to get students’ feedback about which improvements you should include in your course. It could look something like this:


Which improvements would help you most in this course?

  • Video and audio versions of lectures.
  • Virtual “office hours” where you can get personal help.
  • Ungraded practice exams to check your understanding.
  • Flexible deadlines for submitting assignments.
  • Mobile-friendly learning modules.

These could be your top few ideas about how to improve your course, and you just need input from students to see which you should spend your time on. The good thing about the system is that students can submit ideas that you never thought of, and those can inform your list of choices.

 

Of course, any big question that’s important enough to ask everyone in your community is a great fit for AllOurIdeas. Their example question is :

Which do you think is better for creating a greener, greater New York City?

You can see that this is one big question that affects lots of people, and one for which you’d want to get ideas from community members. That is the type of question that this tool is designed to handle, though you can try it in different contexts.

The Data

The app assigns each of your choices a number between 0-100 to indicate how likely it is to be chosen over an alternative.

The score of an idea is the estimated chance that it will win against a randomly chosen idea. For example, a score of 100 means the idea is predicted to win every time and a score of 0 means the idea is predicted to lose every time.

All your choices start with a score of 50 (neither more or less likely to be chosen) and then that score goes up and down according to user voting.

A sample survey’s results look like this, with the most popular answers ranked to the top, and less popular answers further down the page. From there, you have several options for visualizing the data according to your needs.

Getting Started

You can use the free, hosted install at AllOurIdeas.org like I did here, or (if security is an issue for you), you can install AllOurIdeas on your own private server space.

Setting up your own survey is a cinch– just sign up, give an email address, choose a URL, and enter your idea choices as a list– the survey will turn each line into a separate idea for users to vote on. Just press publish and your survey is live!

I used the optional survey widget to embed my survey in my blog. You may want to do this too, so you can make your survey appear in your online course, blog, or other web destination. Anywhere you can enter HTML code, you can paste your widget code and embed your survey.

And Away We Go!

That’s it! I’m excited about living with this tool for a while and seeing what kinds of insights it can surface from the TedCurran.net community. However, I think it would be most useful in large-scale communities (schools, cities, MOOCs) where hundreds or thousands of respondents can all chime in on a topic of interest to them. Please give it a spin and leave a note in the comments below if you find a cool use for AllOurIdeas!

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