Don’t ask me! Ask the world!

Posted on January 28, 2010

5


Task 01 : Don’t ask me! Ask the world!

In this task the student uses an on-line polling service called Ask500people to gather information on a question of their choice. They then use the data collected to write a report on their findings. Questions have a multiple choice format and people who vote are also given the opportunity to leave comments. To give you an idea of the response a student can expect, a couple of weeks ago I posted a trial question on American aid to Haiti. Within 24 hours it had received 198 votes and 21 comments from people all over the world. There are four steps to this task.

Ask500people home

Step One : Think of a question

Obviously, the first thing to do is think of an interesting question. This might be on an issue of universal and timeless interest or about something much more topical and newsy. The more interesting the question, the more votes and comments you’ll get. A good idea is to browse through a few on-line newspapers until you find something which grabs your attention. When you are ready to formulate your question bear in mind that Ask500people allows four different question types.

  1. Selecting an image – e.g. one of four photos of cats
  2. Selecting text – e.g. dog, cat, lizard, bird
  3. 1 to 5 range – e.g. strongly disgree, disagree, undecided, agree, strongly agree (also unlikely to likely, dislike to like, 1 to 5 stars and good to bad)
  4. Yes or No

Four question types

Step Two : Submit your question

Go to www.ask500people.com and Sign-up with a valid email address. You will have to click on the link you are emailed in order to activate your account. Once you’ve accessed your account, you can click on the green Ask a question icon and create one of the four questions types. When you’re done, just sit back and wait for people to vote. 24 hours should be enough to get a good sample of votes and comments. While you’re waiting, have a look at other people’s polls and do a bit of voting yourself.

Ask500people also allows you to embed your poll in a blog or send the URL to other students. If you’d like to do this, go to Your questions, click on your question and then look for the Embed link in the bottom right-hand corner. On the next page you should get both the cut-and-paste embed code and the URL .

Step Three : Get the results

To see how people have voted, go on Your questions and click on your question. You will be taken to a page where you’ll get an overview of the results of your poll, as well as information on how people voted according to nationality, gender, age and educational background. Just beneath the results chart, you’ll see the comments that people have left. Try and include all this information in the next and final step; writing your report.

Poll results and link to embed code

Step Four : Write your report

You should now have enough information to write your report. Make sure it has …

1. An introduction, where you make reference to the aim of your report and the question that was asked. You can also mention the number of people who took part, where they were from and how many comments they left.
2. A main body, in which you should give a summary of your findings. You should also make reference to specific comments which you find interesting. As this is the most important part of the report, it will probably require two, three or more paragraphs.
3. A conclusion, where you sum up with your general impressions and make suggestions for future action.

Here are some expressions that you might like to use in your report

1. Introduction

  • The aim of this report is to … and to recommend the best course of action.
  • The question asked was …
  • The decision was taken to poll people on this issue because / due to …
  • The report is based on a survey of (number) people aged between …
  • All in all (number) people took part in the poll, (number) of whom left comments.

2. Body

  • Most people expressed the opinion that …
  • The overwhelming majority of people stated that …
  • Hardly anybody expressed the opinion that …
  • Very few people opted for …
  • (Not) Surprisingly, half of those who responded said that …
  • Obviously, / Understandably, …

3. Conclusion

  • Having studied the findings of the poll, I would recommend / suggest that …
  • It might also be a good idea for … to …
  • Bearing in mind that … , it would be advisable for …  to think about …
  • On the whole / In general, …
  • Clearly, there is a general feeling that …


Hope you enjoy the task!

Posted in: App Lessons