I’ve seen a couple of really good sites over the last few years that allow users to suggest improvements and vote on the ideas they like the best, allocating maybe 10 votes as they see fit (3 votes here, 1 vote there, or 10 all in one pile). Sadly, I can neither remember nor find any of them!
Having spent an hour or two searching I’ve come up with a few possible alternatives. I’ve not yet done a great deal more than exploring the sites themselves and/or their live demos where available.
Hosted offsite, with limited (if any) branding options and price tags ranging from free to $90/month there are a whole range of options. You need to ante up if you want any moderation of the suggestions and/or more than 100 users/suggestions. That said, you get a slick, professional looking site, managed hosting and presumably decent support. The sites I like the look of are suggestionbox, crowdsound, userecho, getsatisfaction, VoxPopuli, UserVoice (which has the coolest live demo) and IdeaScale (which looks to have by far the best free plan).
Free Online Services
An alternative might be to pick one of the totally free services. Generally less slick, with fewer features and often with no official status for most of the suggestion pages, I don’t think this is my preferred option – but it’s certainly worth a look. Examples include featurelist, and fevote.
Question & Answer
Not quite what I was after, but there are a few tools out there for asking, and answering, questions using a broadly similar format. Although they’re not right for this project, they’re worth looking at as a potential add-on for student-student support. Examples here include Stack Overflow, SOclone and CNprog.
Last, but by no means least, comes OpenMind – an open source Ruby On Rails implementation you can stick on your own webserver and use as you see fit. It looks pretty good and has the flexibility and price tag I appreciate. It would mean more work than a managed service and arguably wouldn’t be as ideal as the best of the paid for tools, but it’s currently my front-runner.
One feature I’d really like to see is LDAP authentication – meaning students wouldn’t need another logon to remember other than their usual computer/VLE/email details – but that isn’t worth $90/month.
If anyone has any suggestions or experience of any of the above tools, or if they know of any other brilliant tools I’ve missed, then please let me know!