Thursday, 6 June 2013

Thing 11: Doodle Polls

What's a Doodle Poll?

If you're a keen user of Google Calendar (and who isn't), you will know how easy it is to view other people's calendars and find the best time to invite them to a meeting.
The trouble is, if you're trying to find a suitable slot for a larger group of people, this method becomes unwieldy; this is where Doodle Polls come in.
A Doodle Poll allows you to set up a choice of different days and times, ask your potential attendees to indicate when they can make it, and helps you choose the best time. To make life even easier, although it's not a Google application, you can link Doodle to your Google account.

Doodle Page

Why should I use it?

I can't think of a single reason why you wouldn't want to use Doodle Poll if you needed to find out the best day/time for a group of people to attend an event. The other alternatives - for example emailing everyone and asking them to send you suitable times - are generally more clumsy.
If you come up with a better way, please let me know!
You could use it to find the best time...
  • for a meeting involving several people
  • to organise an event with input from a range of departments
  • for a social event (if it involves eating chocolate, please include me)

How do I start using Doodle?

Although Doodle is an externally hosted scheduling service, the University has a branded version without adverts that can be linked to your Google account.
The other thing you need to do is link your Doodle account with your Google account and make sure you're not getting adverts.


You will need the University of York Doodle Link (new window tab) for this:
  1. First sign up for a Doodle account (if you haven't already) following the Getting Started instructions on the IT Services Doodle Page (opens new window/tab). Use your university email address, but to maintain security please do not set up the account using the same password as for your York account.
  2. You will need to activate your account from a sign-up email that is sent to you.
  3. If you unwanted adverts are appearing, follow the Removing ads instructions.
  4. Following the instructions on the same page, connect Doodle to your Google account.
Now you need some friends again. If you don't have any, feel free to treat Ned Potter, Tom Smith and me (Mike Dunn) as friends for now - you can always ditch us later.
Imagine you want to invite your friends to an event (let's assume for now it's a 2-hour Chocolate Tasting) but are not sure of the best time. Choose 3 or 4 possible days/times and set up a Doodle Poll. Here's the sequence:
  1. First make sure you can see your friends' calendars in Google calendar - Doodle will need these.
  2. Sign in to your Doodle Account using the Google option on the sign-in dialogue - you can do this after you've linked Doodle and Google.
  3. Choose to Schedule an event (Create new poll) and enter at least a suitable title - location and description are optional, but probably necessary! Choose Next.
  4. In the calendar view, select your friends' calendars from the list to make them visible.
  5. Drag on the calendar to create the possible slots for the event - don't worry if some of them overlap some existing calendar events, but try to use 'gaps' if you can. Choose Next.
  6. We'll skip the optional settings, but feel free to take a look at what's available. Choose Next for a Basic Poll, and enter the email addresses for your friends. As it's Google-enabled, auto-suggest should work.
  7. Tick the box to receive your own invite, and as this is a learning activity, please ensure you add a suitable message so your friends aren't too confused. Actually, if you send an invite to me, I'm confused most of the time anyway :-o
  8.  There's an extra ticky box that helps you track who has responded - if you leave this blank, you'll only see people listed in the poll after they have responded. Try ticking it to see the result.
  9. Choose Send and finish. That's it for now, except it would be useful to look at the email invite you sent yourself and respond to the poll.
  10. Take a look in your calendar: where you have responded 'Yes' to a date/time, the event is shown with [Doodle-tentative]. This means you know when you may have a commitment.
This what a poll looks like

 After your friends have had chance to respond...
  1. Sign in to your Doodle account and view the Dashboard.
  2. Towards the bottom of the page, the poll you set up will be listed. Choose the poll title.
  3. The page consists of three tabs, but the most important are Table view, which lists the poll results, and Administration.
  4. In Administration, take a look at Who is missing? - this information is the result of choosing to track who has responded.
  5. Notice that you can email people you've invited, invite more people and even export results.
  6. The Table view will show the most popular time. Choose Close poll, and Doodle will suggest the best time, but you can choose a different time instead. Notice if you track responses you'll have a Who is missing? link.
  7. Select your time and choose Save. This will allow you to confirm the chosen slot with the participants by email, and will make the appropriate changes to the calendar events, removing surplus 'tentative' ones. Add a message and choose Send.
Doodle by itself is actually very good - Doodle with Google is even better!


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  2. The other great thing about linking Doodle with Google comes when you need to respond to a poll with a large number of entries. You can ask Doodle to check your calendar and automatically fill in your availability. You can also choose a calendar view in Doodle which overlays the proposed times on your own calendar entries and make each selection from there.