Setup Polis.

Setting up a Polis survey requires some thought. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up a Polis survey.

During the free consultation with us, we help a conversation starter to clarify the following:

  • What does the conversation starter want to get from the Polis survey?
  • How wide or narrow does the conversation want to be?
  • Is the conversation starter really looking for new ideas and consensus, or are they looking to confirm their biases/preferences by skewing the conversation?

Once the conversation starter has answers to these key questions, they should then proceed to Stage Two.

The Topic is a simple headline, which sets the direction of the Polis conversation. Usually no more than one sentence. We work with you to define the Topic. Examples could be:

  • “This organisation wants to find out what you think about X”.
  • “This organisation seeks your views about X and wants to build some consensus around it.”
  • “This organisation wants to know, and then to solve, the big issues facing us.”

Essentially, the Description expands upon the Topic. A paragraph of information can be written, though care is needed not to provide too much information. Preferably, the date that the Polis survey is to close should be stated. We recommend that the Description declares that the Polis is anonymous as, in our experience, anonymity is one of the strongest elements of Polis. Anonymity generates the most candid and original statements and provides confidence that the voter’s votes are actually secret.

Next, with our assistance, the conversation starter seeds the conversation with around 8 statements. It is essential that statements – rather than questions – are posed. The wider the range of sub-topics within these first statements, the wider the statements which the voters are likely to suggest for others to vote upon. Wide-ranging statements, give Polis more of a life of its own.

Once a Polis conversation is created, the Polis is accessed via a website link. There are many ways that a Polis can be distributed. We can embed the Polis into any website, or it can be distributed – as any website link can be – by email, Whatsapp, social media, text messages etc. Polis drops a cookie on a voter’s device to ensure that they can only vote once.

At the Crowd Wisdom Project, we can suggest some wording to accompany the Polis link, particularly if it is circulated using email. We recommend that the tool’s inherent anonymity is repeatedly mentioned in any distributing email. After a while, the recipients should be reminded to click back on the link to see the new statements to be voted upon.

Once recipients have answered all the statements, they can, if they want, suggest some statements of their own for others to vote upon. Once made, the statements come to us at the Crowd Wisdom Project. We can either accept or reject the statements, working with the conversation starter. Naturally, we will not allow any defamatory or inappropriate statements to be voted upon.

Once we have released statements to be voted upon, if voters click back into the link, then they will see the new statements. Polis cleverly arranges the statements in a semi-random basis, looking for consensus. At any point, a voter can add fresh statements for moderation: there is no limit. Polis will always tell a voter how many questions they have left to vote upon. A voter does not need to vote on all questions for their votes to count.

Once the Polis conversation is closed, Polis automatically creates a detailed report. The report shows the majority positions and then plots on a continuum the questions which have the most consensus to the ones which sowed the most division.

Thereafter, Polis displays a graph which plots the various cohorts of voters which it has unearthed. Finally, Polis reveals the precise votes on all the statements. At first reading, the report appears quite complicated to interpret, but this is only because of the volume of data created and the analysis provided. Within a few minutes, anyone should be able to understand the report. At the very least, the number of votes on each statement are easy to discern.

With the results in, the conversation starter should spend some time analysing the data. The conversation starter should consider sharing the report in full and unredacted with the voters. This is not always advisable. At the very least, the conversation starter should thank the voters and provide some feedback as to the results. The best wisdom should have been found, as well as the consensus

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