Doodle: Overview

Doodle is an online polling / survey-type service that can be used for scheduling meetings and events. The basic idea is that you create a poll that specifies when you can meet (days and times), and then you ask other people when they could come to your meeting (by sending them an email, with a link to the poll). They click the meeting times that they can attend, and leave the rest. All participants can see entries that have previously been submitted by other people, thus helping with the social cues around setting up a meeting.

When setting up the meeting as a poll, after you click to select appropriate days, you fill out the times that you could hold the meeting (see below). Note that there is no integration with your existing calendar, so you can’t see any details about other meetings when you are setting up the current one. And there is no such thing as dragging a new event over a particular time slot. You have to enter the times, correlating the current meeting you are setting up with your own calendar.

Once you have set up the parameters for the meeting, Doodle provides you with two links: one for participants to fill out the poll, and one for the administrator (the meeting creator) to see the current state of the meeting. The idea is that you then email the participant link to those you want to attend the meeting, asking them when they might be able to attend. For example, here’s the Participant Link for the meeting below. In the screen shot below, Dell is filling out when he’s available.

When other people go to fill out the poll, they see green and red boxes for when other people can and cannot attend … again, showing the current status of the meeting at a social level — who can come at what times, who can’t come (see below). This should, hopefully, send the subtle message that if you are late to respond, that you shouldn’t deadlock the meeting if you can avoid doing so. Once again, note that there is no integration with the participant’s calendar, for seeing these meeting times in context of the other things they are committed to doing.

A couple of usage notes:
– The meeting creator gets an email update every time someone fills out the poll. This keeps them up-to-date with what’s happening.
– There is no concept of an automatic creation of a meeting event based off the poll results. The meeting creator is supposed to look at the completed poll, and then choose the best available time. That may involve excluding certain people, if a common time for all can’t be found.
– Once the meeting creator has found the best time, they can close the poll.

Net Assessment
It’s a nifty idea … using an online poll to find out when people are available. Doodle makes it very simple to do that, and then the rest of the negotiation and coordination around the meeting can be handled in other ways. So my reaction is two-fold: (1) it works, and (2) there are other services that make the selection of days and times easier, eg, Tungle and TimeBridge. On the other hand, the benefit with Doodle is that one person’s unavailability for a particular meeting time doesn’t prevent subsequent people from saying they can attend at that time, unlike with Tungle’s multi-person approach. In other words, Tungle’s ethos is “when is a time that everyone who is invited can attend?”, compared with Doodle’s ethos of “what range of times can everyone who is invited attend?” There’s a subtle but real difference between those two.

Categories: Scenarios