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Introducing Microsoft TownHall, a New Windows Azure-hosted Engagement Platform

From the press release:

Think of TownHall as software that allows you to easily create a destination for folks to voice opinions, identify problems, offer solutions and come together around common interests and concerns. It is also a place to ask questions, where the most popular or relevant questions bubble to the top, so all can quickly see timely topics at any given moment. It does this by letting the community decide what’s relevant, allowing folks to ‘vote up’ questions that they would like to have answered or ‘vote down’ questions that don’t interest them. Check out this site to see TownHall in action.

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TownHall is designed to help you gain insight into your community. It’s optimized to collect data from each engagement, providing insight you can use for analytics and to identify opportunities. It’s also integrated with Facebook Connect, which reduces friction for your community to sign-up and provides you the opportunity to integrate social graph and demographic information into your data. All the data is stored in SQL Azure, which makes it easy to incorporate into existing systems or use with familiar tools like Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access. In TownHall, we recognize that your data is valuable and that you own it. We see our role as empowering you with software, not owning and mining your data.

Related tools

A list of tools that are mentioned in this reference: