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SurveyMonkey Hackathon: Episode III

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SurveyMonkey Hackathon: Episode III
Hackathon Episode 3

We recently completed our third SurveyMonkey Hackathon, and it was a blockbuster. Almost two dozen teams attempted audacious hacks over 26 hours of caffeinated coding. There were product features, internal tools, and a cool dynamic dashboard of stats for our new front lobby in the mix. Although not every hack will make it into production, one already has. And more will follow over the coming weeks and months.

Team Banana Hammocks was voted best hack by all the participants, and for good reason. Their ambitious hack made it easy to translate a questionnaire into multiple languages–with translations sourced from a 3rd party API (for both Question Bank and user-generated questions)–and analyze the results from different locales, side-by-side. (You might ask, were the hackers who voted Banana Hammocks the winners dazzled by Bret’s mustache? Perhaps. But I reckon future hackathon participants may prepare their flair–and facial hair–with this heuristic in mind.)

Team Baby Monkey won runner up for best hack. Comprised of several members of our awesome Analyze team, Baby Monkey had noticed a nagging problem in the core navigation of the SurveyMonkey app for survey creators. A click on the survey title from the My Surveys page takes you into the survey design UI, which makes sense sometimes. But after a survey has been deployed, most of the time people immediately click out of the designer and over to Analyze Beta. Baby Monkey made a new Survey Summary page that pulls in current status of the survey (Draft, Open), rolls up key stats, and plots the responses on a map, and introduces and elegantly-refined core navigation idea to our app. Expect to see this one out in the wild soon.

Team Son of Skippy built on an idea from our last Hackathon, visualizing skip logic in a survey. Sounds simple, right? It’s actually a tricky problem, and this one-man team pulled off an elegant implementation in a crazy-short time period. While it’s not yet ready for a spot in our customer-facing UI, this hack is already in production in our internal Admin Tools, helping our Audience team ensure customers’ surveys get to respondents without a hitch.

Team Emperor Tamarins delivered a hack that solves a very tricky problem. How do you keep your survey short (which keeps your response rate up) but get answers to lots of questions? The Emperor Tamarins’ hack allows a survey creator to cut a 50-question survey up into chunks, deciding the maximum questions any single respondent would see. Then it dynamically ensured each question received enough answers and there was an even distribution. It also allowed the survey creator to set certain questions to appear in every survey. A super cool idea, executed well.

Last but not least, Team TxtMnky @(0_0)@ built a simple, affordable solution for survey creators to collect responses from respondents with only SMS-capable mobile phones. The fact that hundreds of millions of people don’t yet have access to PCs or smartphones, but DO have access to SMS, says it all.

In addition to these five notable hacks on SurveyMonkey, there were some jaw-droppingly cool hacks from the Wufoo team. Check out the details on the Wufoo blog.

Congratulations to all the hackers. The work you did certainly inspired me.

If you’re a hacker interested in helping people make better decisions, and you think this kind of stuff might be fun, drop us a line.

For pics of our Hackathon fun, click on over to our Flickr page!

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