Ever wish you poll a global audience on any question, and get your answer in a matter of minutes? You can, now, with Ask500People. The site, which launches today after months of tweaking and testing by the brilliant minds at Wondermill, promises, “World Opinion, While You Watch.” And it delivers, with a scandalously simple Google Maps mashup and a feather-light interface that lets you see poll responses pop up on a globe in real time.
Should Pluto be classified as a planet? How long can you hold your breath? Is MySpace dead? No question is too big or too small to submit. A simple Digg-like voting system helps move a particularly clever query to the front of the line. In addition to answering the poll, users can also comment on questions… providing another layer of commentary that goes deeper than a simple “Yes” or “No.”
If you happen to land on the homepage between questions, a (relatively) short countdown greets you. A cute rocket launch then drops you into the fun, and the next thing you know you can lose half the day just watching answers pop up on the map.
Ask500People is more than a whimsical web toy, though. It’s also a proof of concept for a more serious tool that would allow businesses, community groups, politicians, or anyone to get a quick read of a group’s whims, be it a company, or the whole world. There are a number of ways in which Ask500People can help companies make better decisions based on fast, inexpensive independent input.
Ask500People (and Wondermill) are the brainchild of my friend and world-class Web 2.0 wizard Aaron Dragushan, who also convenes Manoa Geeks, a monthly geek meetup. He had patiently demoed Ask500People at several gatherings, and took feedback and criticism with class. It’s great to see the site finally launch.