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Recently Google unveiled Moderator. Moderator is a tool that allows you to crowdsource questions and suggestions.

To put things in perspective, Google Moderator was developed as an internal tool to see what questions a majority of people wanted to ask during a talk and then ask the top questions to the presenter. However, it found more uses and now it has been opened to the masses via the app engine.

So lets take this new tool for a spin, shall we ?

The primary use for Moderator is to crowdsource questions or suggestions. Let’s say we would like all of our readers to let us know if they want us to cover a particular app or recommend a solution to a particular need or problem. Google Moderator is ideal for such things. Here’s how we would go about it.

Create a new series

A series is like the top level heading under which you would like to group all the questions. I put in MakeUseOf since most of the questions and suggestions would be MakeUseOf related.

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Create a topic

Topics are the next lower level in the hierarchy to series. Topics would be used to keep the things tidy. Like there is a featured series “Ask a World Leader” over at Moderator in which people submit questions they will like to ask famous personalities. So to keep things tidy, each personality becomes a topic. So now if you want to ask Barack Obama a new question you would go to the respective topic and put in a question.

For our MakeUseOf series I put in a Article Requests topic, where you can submit your article requests or thumbs up/ thumbs down other readers’ suggestions/requests. Periodically we will pick the one that is on the top.

Now let people vote and ask questions

Others can now vote on the questions that have been submitted in the topic. People can give a positive vote (which is essentially a thumbs up) or a negative vote (thumbs down). Depending on the positive to negative count of the various questions, the most popular question will eventually rise to the top. If a question has 100 total votes of which 50 are positive and 50 are negative, it will be ranked lower than a question with 90 total votes, of which 85 are positive and only 5 are negative.

Some things I missed:

    (1) First off, is it just me or do the names: series, topics, questions sound confusing to you as well? Do they convey what you should put into what? See here ‘Suggest an android application’ becomes the series, ‘the genres’ become the topics and ironically the ‘actual ideas’ have to be termed as ‘questions’. It works, but it’s not so intuitive to the first timer considering that the masses will use it for different purposes and not only for picking up questions to ask in a tech talk. I actually ended up putting the question in the series name and it was only afterwards that I figured what is what. Either that or may be I just needed some sleep. What you say?

    (2) Since the main focus is people, letting others know that you have created a new series and would like to know their suggestions would be helpful. So I greatly missed a share this link. Right now you have to go back to the series and copy paste the link from the address bar.

    (3) No email notifications or RSS feeds at the moment. I think it would be nice if people could subscribe to the topics, or if the owner could get notifications of important events like a new top question, or a new event.

Go ahead, check out Google Moderator, see how you like it, how you would like to MakeUseOf it and then let us know in the comments. Oh, and by the way, there really is a MakeUseOf series over there at Moderator. So go ahead check it out as well and contribute.

  1. drop lbs
    June 18, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    punches in facenext time wear a helmet.

  2. Gabe Garms
    May 21, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Moderator is a great tool. I actually ran a study with it and the only setback I saw was it's inability to notify users who have already submitted ideas when both new ideas are submitted to the forum and modifications to their ideas are made. It's a simple change that Google via an RSS feed can make and as soon as they do I will be back. Until then, I'm trying out two other tools: and

  3. 800HighTech
    September 29, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Seems like this could work........?

  4. Varun Kashyap
    September 28, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Also check out the MakeUseOf series over at Moderator? its a great way to have your say.

  5. Varun Kashyap
    September 28, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Ah.. calling it useless would be a little harsh, may be it doesn't fit to your needs as it is now, let's see how it develops from here on. Still early days.

  6. Aibek
    September 28, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I wonder if the "Ask a World Leader" thingie actually works. I mean surely i can post a question for Obama there but whether he'll ever see that's another story :?

    • Varun Kashyap
      September 28, 2008 at 9:20 pm

      May be we can have him in MakeUseOf podcast ;)
      Any contacts Jason?

  7. Nick
    September 27, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Very cool. I might take in use of this, after all google is the king XD

  8. reinkefj
    September 27, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I found it to be useless as currently configured. You can't have a private session, like a corporate meeting. Sending out the invitations. Saving the questions and answers. Privacy. It's a good first step, but needs work. imho.

    • Varun Kashyap
      September 28, 2008 at 9:19 pm

      Ah can't say useless, may be it won't be meeting your needs at the moment. Let's see how it develops with time.

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