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Microsoft TownHall

Crowdsourcing system hosted on Microsoft Azure.

From the tool’s introduction announcement:

Today at the Politics Online Conference in Washington, D.C. Microsoft launched TownHall, a new Windows Azure-hosted engagement platform that fosters, moderates and houses conversations between groups. As you may have seen on today’s Microsoft on the Issues blog, TownHall is an ideal tool for politicians and other public officials (among others) who want to host online social experiences that drive richer discussion around top interests and concerns with the American public.

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.

From a Microsoft Developer blog post in the “Enabling Digital Society” series:

TownHall features a user-friendly, lightweight interface that is optimized for the collection of data, which is stored in Microsoft SQL Azure. From there, you can pull the data into a number of existing and familiar tools, including Microsoft Office Excel®. TownHall is available as downloadable source code that is customizable for your specific requirements.

To increase participation, TownHall is equipped with a user reputation system, which allows individuals to earn points and badges for their contributions to the community. There are several approaches to earning points. Organizations can “rally the troops” by tailoring TownHall to accommodate various scenarios, including rewarding offline activities.

Additionally, users can access a number of discussion topics where they can ask questions, vote on questions (agreeing or disagreeing that the question should be answered), and view questions and their tags. For more information on Microsoft TownHall, view the below embedded video:

Update: Microsoft TownHall has been discontinued. In order to access the website, view an archived copy.

Additional information

Slice & Dice