Here’s a fun link for you. Google just released a free service called Google Moderator. This is a port to Google App Engine of an existing tool we use all the time at Google. Internally it was called Dory (after the fish who asked questions all the time in Finding Nemo).
What does Google Moderator do? When we have tech talks or company-wide meetings, it lets anyone ask a question and then people can vote up the questions that they’d like answered. The user interface looks like this:
My team uses it often at Google, e.g. it’s great for prioritizing which questions are most important.
I like that Google is in many ways turning itself inside out by taking many of our internal tools and making them available to the world. We use tools such as Gmail and Google Docs all the time in-house to share information, presentations, and docs. Guido van Rossum recently announced that a version of Mondrian, our internal code review tool, is available for the outside world to use. Now Google Moderator is another tool that anyone can use. Projects such as Google Code and Google App Engine make it even easier to share code or applications with the world. And releasing low-level tools such as protocol buffers or high-level tools such as Google Web Toolkit makes life easier for lots of developers.
Google is not the only company that does this, of course. Yahoo for example has their excellent Yahoo User Interface Library, Yahoo Pipes, or YSlow. Its just nice when companies release code or tools that benefit lots of people on the web.
At any rate, give Google Moderator a whirl. You can create your own “series,” which lets people ask and vote on questions. Who knows, maybe we’ll try to find a way to use Google Moderator the next time we do a webmaster chat. Oh, and Google Moderator is a free service, so give it a try sometime.
P.S. Congrats to the engineers that launched this as a 20% project. 🙂