Wargaming Tradecraft: Create a Poll


Create a Poll

 Many people around the Blogosphere use polls to ask questions of their readers. It's a good idea for a number of reasons... sometimes you're not sure about how people will react to an idea you have, other times you want to make sure people are interested before you start typing down a specific road, or maybe you've got a bunch of ideas and with limited time want some feedback into what topic to cover first.

A poll doesn't take a lot of space. Place it on the side of your blog, asking all visitors about a broad topic or directly into a page or post to to keep it related to something specific.

Something to keep in mind is that like other forms of passive communication, not everyone will respond to a poll.. you'll probably only get a small percentage of your readers answering. One of the drawbacks of RSS is that lots of people (and these days, some of your more devout ones) will miss it completely if it's not embedded in a post, since they never have to read your site anymore.

Most blogging platforms have polls built in. There are also plenty of third-party polls. At first I tried using Blogger's built in poll widget, but ran into some problems. See all those spikes in the graph over there? Apparently Blogger's had a bug for years where the poll widget causes your stats to jump, and in some cases skyrocket. As you can see, it happened to me in just a short time.

I can't speak out for the WordPress widget, but rather than having my stats screwed up for the period of my poll, I sought out a different one. PoLLCODE offered a quick method to setup a poll.
  1. Just browse to their website
  2. Enter a title and a bunch of questions
  3. Click "Get Poll Code!"
  4. It gives you a few display options
  5. Copy the HTML code into a widget.
It's free, there's no sign up, and you don't have to enter your email either.

The only drawback of Pollcode is that you can't use checkboxes to ask people to check multiple options.
That, uhm, only just occured to me as I'm writing this. Doing a bunch of hunting around and it looks like a lot of other free poll sites want you to sign up, email and all. Well, I don't want that. Though Polldaddy looks to offer a lot of features for reviewing the poll data, so it might at least be worth it.

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