Online Tools for Brainstorming, Deliberating and Rating Ideas

While my main interest is in tools for group decision making and governance that people can us without the need for computers, I am frequently asked by the geek types “Hey, I bet dotmocracy would work great online. Do you have a web version?” In short, I don't but there are web applications for brainstorming ideas, deliberating them, rating and recognizing the level of agreement among participants, similar to the paper based dotmocracy process. Here is short list of the best ones I found:

dialogr free web service allows user to quicly register, create topics, post ideas on each topic, rate each idea out of 5 stars and post comments on ideas. Unlike dotmocracy it does not include the “Confusion” rating option, nor does it graph the number of votes per each star, thus users don't know if voting is poloarized or not. That said, so far this is the best out-of-the-box free web based collaborative decision-making tool I have found.


An excellent collection of tools for brainstorming, categorizing, priortization / voting, action planning, surveying and documenting. Unfortunately you are looking at around $18,000 USD for license fees and training.

CoVision’s WebCouncil software

This is a key application used by AmericaSpeaks for their 21st Century Town Hall Meetings. They don't tell you much about the software on their public site but I can tell you it cost over $10,000 USD for set-up, training and license. You can peak at a demo at

Software and services for live large group decision-making. Their latest application called ThinkTank looks quite ideal, except for the price, which was around US $35 seat/day, $105 seat/week, or $200 seat/month (a seat is required for every logged in user).

This is a new web service for controlled and structured posting and voting on content, at last check it was just videos. Seems like it has a lot of potential.

Delphi Decision Aid

This is a free-ware application for hosting a basic Delphi method which has similar characteristic to dotmocracy. unfortunatly the usability is a bit lacking in the software interface.

Hosted groups with rating features

Both free Yahoo groups and Google groups allows users to post topics, comment and to rate each comment. I'd like to see if any organizations are formally using these features for collective decision making.

Content Management Systems with rating options

Drupal CMS with VoteAPI module and probably some modules/plug-ins/features on other content management systems or forum tools (e.g. phpBB) could be configured or modestly upgraded to provide for similar idea rating, commenting, and graphing that is core to dotmocracy.

If you can suggest other applications for brainstorming ideas, deliberating them, rating and recognizing the level of agreement among participants, please let me know via a comment below. Thanks. -JD

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