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The SurveyMonkey Hackathon!

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The SurveyMonkey Hackathon!

Recently the SurveyMonkey team took a break from their regular schedule to take part in our first internal Hackathon. We broke up into smaller teams and spent 26 hours working on any project we wanted to help make our products or job better. New features, tweaks of existing features, or new internal tools or workflows, anything was fair game.

team hard at work

Photo by Johanna Evans

We thought you folks might be interested in some of the things that were worked on. If so, read on!

Just to be clear: these are not feature announcements. While it’s likely that some of this stuff makes it into our roadmap and is fully developed and released, those decisions haven’t been made yet. You’ll be the first to know when new stuff comes out!

Meet The Teams

Team Capuchin created SurveyMonkey On-The-Go which presents your surveys beautifully on tablet devices. Imagine a “kiosk” at a conference, museum, or shopping center where passerby could complete a survey or leave feedback. This involved tweaking the styling of how surveys are presented to work better on a mobile device, as well as creating a native iOS application!


Team AuditMonkeys created an internal tool called Capsoft to help our our Finance and Accounting departments. These departments currently collect timesheet information through a manual process which involves sending emails, following up with people, gathering information, and then data entry into Excel. This tool automates the entire process so that emails are sent out and tracked, reminders are sent, the data is collected and then an Excel spreadsheet is mailed to the appropriate parties.


Team Doug’s Mom (we’re a classy bunch) also took on the idea of making SurveyMonkey better on mobile devices by targetting Android tablets. They re-created many important pages of the SurveyMonkey site to look and work better. For example, the Login page, My Surveys page, Create page and the Question Bank.


Team GreaseMonkey’s idea was to help users create better surveys by analyzing the surveys those users create and offering advice to make it better. For example, the tool would warn you about misspellings or swear words, things that could make potential respondents uncomfortable and less likely to take your survey seriously. The tool grades your survey based on a variety of criteria and only gives you the “green light” once all the issues are resolved.


Team Hear No Evil created an interactive map in which you can see the geographic location of where your respondents submitted the survey from. Clicking the “play” button shows you a fast-forwarded version of the day, dropping points onto a world map.


Team Speak No Evil created a visual representation of skip logic throughout your survey. Simply tell it which survey to draw, and it will render all the questions, and draw arrows for question and page skip logic. The goal is to make it easier to debug and verify skips when designing complex surveys.


Team See No Evil created a web-based python deployment tool for our internal use. This ties into our existing build infrastructure and is able to handle any python build, deployment and host cycle request.


Team Mike Sela got down and dirty with some data mining. The idea was to find specific words or phrases in questions that cause bias in the answer. Mike aggregated a month’s worth of question and response data specifically looking at True/False, Yes/No, and Agree/Disagree questions to try and find particular words or phrases that bias a respondent one way or another. We will hopefully be sharing some of this data with you all soon.


Team Pink Eye (my team!) worked on a project similar to Team Hear No Evil only our data was from Wufoo instead of SurveyMonkey. We tentatively called it Wufoo Worldview and it showed a world map where pins fell down onto the map whenever any Wufoo form was submitted in real time. We got to play with new technologies like Node.js and extracting the data from our existing cache layer as to not cause any additional server load.


Team Quiz Knows took a stab at one of the most requested SurveyMonkey features: the ability to have right and wrong answers to questions. In other words, grade a quiz. It is easy to browse respondents and see their scores or get aggregate scoring data.


Team Cloak. And Dagger! took on another internal project: making the customer management tools better.

You can even watch our own Kevin Hale’s computer screen (in fast forward) throughout the day of the hackathon. Now that’s what a day in the life of a front end developer looks like:


The hackathon was a resounding success. We had fun, good ideas came out of it, and we got a break from the norm. After a day like that, this is pretty much the only option:

Photo by Johanna Evans

Which idea do you like the most? Vote Here!

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  • Sicco Jan

    I like the idea of a hackathon best!

    It takes jobrotation (which usually means something like serial monogamous) to a next level.

    Often, I help someone with some Excel question and would love the time and opportunity to start anew and create some (drastic) improvement on what is presented. Why not structure that in a hackathon? Thank you for the idea, I will steal it!

  • Scott

    I need the ability to use a tablet to conduct surveys so if you could go ahead and let that one go I would be most appreciative.

    • We’re planning on it for 2012!

      • Kayte K

        Not yet but we’re working on it!

  • JAG

    How fun!
    Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could get non-programmer workplaces to hold “hacks” every once in a while?

    • Hanna J

      JAG – We think so too! Thanks for your comment. Have a great day :)

  • please build the skip logic map!! (team speak no evil)

    • Bennett P

      Anna – the team has heard your cries! We hope to have it soon!

  • Steph

    Ditto on the skip logic map! When will this feature be coming out?

    • Bennett P

      Steph – Soon! We’ll let the team know how eager you are!

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