In Jacob’s April 4th Blog Roundup, he lists the recently published Tools for Online Idea Generation: A Comparison of Technology Platforms for Public Managers by folks at the Collaborative Project. I spent some time looking at the tools to see if any stood out. Recognizing I only got to test about of a third of these tools, my evaluation is only cursory. From what I was able to see on example sites and promotional materials, however, Spigit and UserVoice seem like the most creative and user friendly (but also on the higher end of the cost spectrum).
- Bubble Ideas Product marketed to businesses, allowing users to submit, comment, and vote on ideas with positive and negative ratings. I could imagine using their Geo Location tool in innovative ways.
- Crowd Wise Instead of voting for favorite ideas, participants rate each idea from best to worst (they may love some options, be able to live with others and find a few completely unacceptable). The system for tallying votes helps identify which option has the broadest support.
- Delib’s Dialogue: Pretty much the following functionality: Set up a proposition; have people add their ideas; rate, tag and comment on them to build consensus.
- Google Moderator: Another post, tag, and rate site. Allows you to filter ideas by popularity or newness. Some of the discussions are overwhelmingly huge, like Egypt 2.0 with 40K ideas and 1.4M votes. What’s missing? A sense of how ideas submitted can actually lead to action.
- IdeaScale: Was cutting edge when Obama’s transition team utilized it but pretty much submit, agree/disagree, comment.
- Microsoft Town Hall: Useful to have a tool that focuses on questions, however, would be better if you could also rate the answers as well. Tried to submit a question and the site froze when I hit submit. I appears this tools in not ready for prime time use.
- PubliVate: Another site that offers a post, view, comment, and vote on ideas in response to a question platform. They set up a timeline that gives the author opportunities to improve the idea along the way.
- Salesforce Ideas: Focuses more on service response systems integrating multiple channels of communication from email to calls and social media. Good if you already use Salesforce for audience in mind. The chatter function, and the idea-exhange provide platforms for an office to collaborate internally on challenges/solutions and for customers to submit suggestions.
- Spigit: The most expensive of all the tools and perhaps rightly so given its sophistication and creative applications. While seems particularly well suited for large businesses to encourage innovation, some interesting examples of public agencies using this tool to reach out to the public (check out the Spending Challenge conducted in the UK). People get points and become power users over time with 360 degree review for ideas and innovation.
- UserVoice: Cool tool with some great examples of communities utilizing this applicaton for idea generation. Ideas for Seattle is a great example site. Not the first time we’ve seen legalizing marijuana be a top vote getter along side with some more thoughtful and creative ideas. I like the way UserVoice makes it possible to limit the number each user gets (10 in Seattle’s case) so participants are forced to allocate votes wisely. System does a great job at listing categorized ideas for easy browsing. Also like the tabs for hot, new, accepted, and completed.
Great to see new online idea creation tools coming available to communities. One criteria to think about when evaluating these tools and their potential use in community planning is whether or not they integrate well with public meetings. Can they be used during group discussions as well as by individuals online. A public meeting with round table discussions can be a great way to collect initial ideas and kick start the conversations.