Beta Has Launched!

Oh man, it feels good to say that. At long last, I am proud to announce that the beta of our new Mister Poll web site is now online! It’s taken so much longer than I had initially hoped, but I’m quite happy with the end result. The real question is, will you be?

Before I send you over there, let me say a few quick words about this beta. First, it’s a beta, so there will likely be a few imperfections. Hopefully nothing major is still lurking out there, but if you do find something, please let us know. Also, don’t limit your comments to things that break. If something feels awkward, doesn’t make sense, or you simply have a suggestion on how to improve it, speak up. We want to hear about that too.

Also, this beta site is running completely separate from the live Mister Poll site. Nothing you do on the beta will effect the live site in any way, and vice versa. This includes making new polls, changing existing polls, voting, posting messages, changing your password, etc. The two sites are completely separate. The beta site was seeded with a copy of the data from the live site as of early morning October 1st, 2007. When beta ends and we launch for real, we’ll start over and the latest live data will be re-converted one final time.

As far as what’s new, in a nutshell: a lot! In addition to the snazzy new look, almost every feature is improved in some way. I will post additional articles talking about the new features in more detail, but for now, go explore!

I’d really appreciate any feedback.

Thanks! I hope you like it!


9 Responses to “Beta Has Launched!”

  1. 1 Phil October 4, 2007 at 10:31 am

    It looks sweet, great work! One thing I noticed…the polls on the beta site don’t have the data from the old site…is this just an oversight, or will we lose all our previous results when the new site is released?

    Keep up the great work!

  2. 2 Phil October 4, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Oh, one suggestion: Switch the “Make a Poll” and “Search for a Poll” boxes. (I’m guessing) that people search for polls more than create them? I know that I’ve filled out the Make a Poll box a few times when I meant to be searching. My eyes go to the center of the screen automatically, so I just assume that the box I see is for searching.

    Just an idea…

  3. 3 misterpoll October 4, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks, Phil!

    You won’t lose your previous results. They will be saved, but in a separate historical set of results. If you login to your account on the beta site and click “View your polls”, you should see a complete list of your polls. Each poll will have a set of “launches” listed for it. (A launch is an independent set of results, so you could launch a poll multiple times, say once for family and once for your office, and keep the results separate.) Converted polls from the old site will have a launch called “A Fresh Start”, which is where votes from the new site will go. If the poll had any results from the old site, it will also have a launch called “Converted Results”. This is where your old results are.

    Why are they separate? The old site and the new site track results in vastly different and incompatible ways. The old site only tracked the total number of votes each choice received. The new site actually saves each individual vote, and you’ll be able to get at that data when we finalize the download format. We simply couldn’t convert the old data into the new format without inventing all of those details. So, we isolated the old results into a special launch type to preserve the data for you, then started a fresh new launch to continue taking votes in the new system.

    It does mean that when the new site launches, from the voter’s perspective, all polls will start over at zero. It’s a bit awkward, but necessary to make sure we don’t taint the new system right out of the gate. Fortunately, it’s only temporary since things will start to look better as people begin to vote again.

    I hope that made sense. I’ll try to work this into our FAQ in a more compact form. 🙂

  4. 4 misterpoll October 4, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Phil, interesting suggestion about swapping the search / new poll boxes on the front page. I did worry about people mistaking the new poll box for a search when that page was designed because they look so similar. It didn’t occur to me that we might could minimize that by swapping their positions. I’ll experiment with it a bit. Thanks!

  5. 5 Tom October 4, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Will it be possible for voters to also see individual voting data, or only the original author of the poll?

  6. 6 misterpoll October 4, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Tom: Initially, the individual voting data will only be available to the poll author. We toyed with the idea of opening this up to voters, but we decided that many poll authors would be protective of this data. If there is enough interest, we may make it an option for poll authors to publish more detailed data to the public in some way. For now, voters will be limited to the aggregate voting numbers they’re used to seeing.

  7. 7 ed October 21, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Great improvement! Question/suggestion: is it possible to show results of multiple-selction questions differently with results shown as percentage of number of voters as well as percentage of number of votes? Example: if there are 5 voters on a question and each votes for 3 responses, there are 15 votes. If all 5 have selection that is the same that is shown as 33% of votes, which it is, but it would be nice to also see that 100% of voters selected that.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. 8 misterpoll October 23, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Hi Ed,

    Let me start with an example, because the terminology of “votes” vs “voters” can be too confusing without it. Let’s say I create a simple multi-select question:

    What ice cream flavor do you like? You may pick more than one.

    [ ] Chocolate
    [ ] Vanilla

    Now, let’s say that you and I both vote, and we each select both flavors. The old system considers that 2 voters and 4 votes. It always showed the results as a percentage of votes, so that the total is always 100%. It would show:

    Chocolate: 50% (2 out of 4 votes)
    Vanilla: 50% (2 out of 4 votes)

    Over the years, we have actually had a lot of complaints about this method. It seems that most people wanted to see the results expressed as a percentage of voters. I even had an extended email dialog with a statistics professor once, where he told me it was statistically invalid to show the results as a percentage of votes. I still don’t know that I agree with that, but in the end, we did decide to change how multi-select results are shown. In the new system, the same results would be shown this way:

    Chocolate: 100% (2 out of 2 voters)
    Vanilla: 100% (2 out of 2 voters)

    We thought about letting people flip between the two methods but finally decided that would add more confusion than benefit. Of course now we’ll probably have people complaining that they want it the other way. Luckily, those people will be able to use the new download feature and slice up the data any way they please.

  9. 9 Ed October 26, 2007 at 12:03 pm


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