Keyboard question mark

Most of us simply love answering questions… as long as they’re short and easy to answer. We don’t want to spend ages doing it; that can feel like an interrogation, or even worse filling in a form! But if you looked up from your monitor and asked the person next to you to help you decide on where to go for lunch, for example, the chances are they would happily give you their views, and they would actually like being asked. Why?

When we ask someone for their opinion we’re immediately saying we value what they have to say, and we all like being valued. We also need to be heard, particularly on subjects that affect us. At any one time there will be people passionately debating issues, publicly and privately, to ensure their voice is heard on subjects from tax credits to immigration. And then there are the really key issues, like whether Harry Styles is more talented than Justin Bieber! Pick the right subject and you can start a heated debate with almost anyone, even on where to go for lunch if they just happen to have had a good or bad experience.

On the flip side the more people who respond to our questions the more chance we have of getting the answer right; it is the premise on which democracy is based. Of course you could answer that the ultimate test of what I’m saying is elections, where turn out has got lower and lower. But there is a simple explanation to that; it is a hassle to actually vote. If you could vote as simply as scrolling through your Instagram feed, for example, I believe we would see almost a full turnout.

One major proof point of our love of giving our opinions is a recent LinkedIn status update. I’m sure you probably saw it. A LinkedIn member asked people to give their preference out of 6 options for the logo design for their coffee company. Opinions were given in the comments below. It was one of the most viral posts I have ever seen on LinkedIn with hundreds of thousands of people giving their views. The problem for the poster is somehow managing all that data into something that is useful. What he really needed was something to say what percentage of the vote each option got. LinkedIn was not the right tool for the job.

In the old days if we wanted our opinions to be heard we signed petitions and, if we were one of the chosen few, we answered questions posed by a polling company who then charged their client thousands of pounds for the intelligence. Now I can set up a poll and give you the popular answer to it in less time than it has taken me to write this blog. The response data can be managed just as quickly and easily. It means that we can now crowd source all our decisions.

By Shyam Dattani, Co-Founder of askwhich1