Popular activity among newbies in discussion fora such as Usenet groups or mailing lists. Newbies do this because it gives them the instant gratification of having lots of people reply to them, and it's easier to do than writing something thoughtful.

Experienced participants usually find polls highly annoying because

  • The pollers almost never realize that the best way to go would be to ask people to reply by personal mail and summarize the results - and if they do, half of the people answer to the whole group anyway. This means lots of really uninteresting traffic, without an actual result.
  • Almost invariably, the questions are trivial, like "how old is everyone?" or "where do you live?", or the matter of holy wars, like "What's your favourite distribution?" on a Linux ML, or "Who should Tenchi marry?" on a Tenchi Muyo related ML.
  • This also means that the same polls appear over and over again, about once per month in extreme cases. Very annoying.
The bottomline: resist the urge to poll, or if you can't, at least direct the answers away from the forum, summarize them into something meaningful, and choose an interesting topic.

Poll"ing (?), n. [See Poll the head.]


The act of topping, lopping, or cropping, as trees or hedges.


Plunder, or extortion.


E. Hall.


The act of voting, or of registering a vote.

Polling booth, a temporary structure where the voting at an election is done; a polling place.


© Webster 1913.

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