If you’re a Twitter user, you may find yourself in a position where you want to ask your followers a question. The asking part is easy – just tweet it – but keeping track of and quantifying those answers can be tricky, especially if more than a few people follow you.
After posting a question to Twitter, the flow of responses is often scattered. People respond when they get around to checking Twitter, and sometimes they use hashtags that aren’t part of the list of choices you asked people to choose from.
Options like TwtPoll are fine, but they don’t ask the user to login so you don’t have a good sense of who’s voted on what, and if you provide an “Other” option, you can’t invalidate bullshit, trolling or erroneous votes that can potentially throw off your totals.
For example, in a recent TwtPoll I posted to Twitter asking my tech female followers to tell me what sector of the industry they’re in, despite “Programmer” being a choice, several picked “Other” and entered “Web Developer”, “Front-End Developer”, etc in the “Other” text box. In my head, both of these easily fall under “Programmer”, which means I have some post-poll numbers rejiggering to do if I want to use these results for anything, anecdotal though they may be.
I came across a simple service called PopTip that is (so far) free and seems to handle a few of these issues a little better. Login with your Twitter account, compose your tweet using hashtags as the poll options, and people simply reply to vote.
No one has to click on any links to vote, they just reply to your tweet using the hashtag. It’s that simple to create a poll, and that simple to respond to one.
PopTip provides a nice auto-refreshing public page where people can see the results (and can also vote on the page if they chose to).
Apparently, 18 people read this blog and have feelings about it strong enough to reply.
One feature I quite like is the ability to determine whether a reply is counted or not, and if it is, what it should be counted as. Does that mean poll creators can rig the results? Absolutely. But you’re not voting for president here – you’re giving me feedback that is valuable, and that ability allows me to counteract the effects of human error and trolls. Rigging the results only hurts me.
If someone replies “I love your writing and wish you’d post even more!” but fails to add a hashtag, I can count that as a vote for “good”. If someone replies “I hate you, I hate your blog, I hate everyone that looks like you. Please go die in a fire” and forgets to add the #bad hashtag, I can still add a vote for “bad” into my results. And cross them off my Christmas card list.
BTW, the default time frame for the poll duration is about a day, I think. They don’t make it obvious, but you can extend the poll out much longer in your dashboard by clicking on the “expires in $x days” link. A little calendar widget will pop up and you can pick a new date.
Overall, it’s really a nice little unobtrusive tool that solves a lot of the annoying parts of trying to quantify the opinions of people you ask questions to on Twitter, even if it’s not meant to be a formal poll. Give it a try at www.poptip.com.