The tool I will be reviewing is the ‘All Our Ideas‘ ( www.allourideas.org ) wiki based survey tool.
The tool bills itself and the concept of wiki surveys as a new approach to the field Of information collection, it bypasses certain limitations of the classic survey format and introduces interactivity by collecting user generated answers..
This survey tool is a way for anyone to create a survey based on the logic of pairwise comparison. Pairwise comparison (users choosing one of two options in front of them and then the test changes to reflect the preference) does not allow manipulation of the results but does allow for intuitive ranking of preferences. As noted in the research  this is valuable for organisations with limited resources to decide how they could be spent. The critical element that distinguishes this tool from other tools that may also use pairwise comparison is the addition of the space to add an idea if either of the given two is not agreeable. These user generated answers are then fed to the system and generated for other users to rank and decide on. This proved helpful for the two initial runs of the tool namely for PlaNYC in which 8 of the top 10 ideas were contributed by users, as were 7 of the top 10 ideas for the OECD. When I used the tool to respond to a survey from the PlaNYC I enjoyed the simple and responsive nature of the tool. The content from users differs in two ways according to the researchers behind the tool . User generated content provides novel ideas previously unthought of by the questioners and also in alternative framings for ideas which are more appealing to users.
The website linked is for the online tool itself. It is simple to sign up and create the wiki survey which is then hosted on the All Our Ideas site. I found this site by looking at the DiRT repository for Digital Humanities tools.
When I went onto the site for the first time I found a research article highlighting the research done into the idea of the tool. I like the fact that it is easy to find and displayed on the page under a main heading. The research describes the ideas behind the tool such as the founding principles of:
1) Greediness: the wiki based nature of the tool along with the non-closed in survey allows for a ‘greediness’ of information from contributors, encouraging as much information sharing as possible.
2) Collaborativeness: new answers are generated into the survey and can be responded to by users like in focus group.
3) Adaptivity: the survey constantly adapts to the answers given and algorithmically gives you questions based on these and your suggested inputs.
When doing the survey I enjoyed the fact that after I was done as much as I wished to do I could then click over to the ‘results’ page which gave me the most popular answers to the topic. I also appreciated the fact that I was presented with numerous data visualisation options to show me different things like a word cloud from all of the answers, world map of all the recorded votes, graphs of the unique sessions per day etc.
The data from the surveys can be downloaded into CSV files from votes/ questions and given answers.
The usability of the tool is fantastic in my opinion. There is an option for embedding onto your own website. You can download the raw data for analysis and integrate the results with Google Analytics.
As you can see at the bottom of the blog I’ve spared no time in setting one up myself! (I was not able to embed it due to restrictions from WordPress, but this should work with other blogs, and please do go and see how it works for yourself).
The tool appears stable, with 7,708 active wiki surveys and I having a smooth experience with the tool myself on first usage. The tool is open-source and invites developers to readjust it for their benefit.
Overall I think that this is a fascinating tool to use for data collection. It is aesthetically pleasing and usable by design. It does not replace traditional methods for some fields but it is a more engaging and open-ended way to garner user opinion and new information that may be overlooked by issuers. It also appears to successfully eliminate skewed surveys and loaded data. I will certainly use this tool in the future for projects.