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I'm looking for a free (gratis good, open source preferred) audience response system. By this I mean a system whereby one person (the teacher or presenter) can create polls, and collect responses from an audience. This is similar to what the iClicker does; however, the iClicker has a hardware component, and I'm looking for a software-only solution that relies on the audience using their own hardware (phones, tablets, and/or laptops).

I have a number of requirements:

  • It must not cost any money, either for the audience or the presenter. (I will consider solutions that have a "free tier" as long as the free tier meets all the criteria below, supports at least 50 audience members, and places no restrictions on other parameters, such as number of polls.)
  • It must work over the web, without requiring audience members to install software. I would prefer solutions that also don't require the presenter to install software, but would consider ones that do.
  • I'm primarily interested in web apps that don't require the presenter to self-host the software. I would consider self-hosted solutions if the setup is very simple and secure.
  • It must allow linking of each poll response to an individual user. That is, it cannot be a simple "survey" app that just records how many people voted for each possible answer choice. I need to have a record of which individuals responded, and what answer choice they gave. This means there needs to be some form of registration so that the system knows who is responding.
  • In line with the previous point, it must not allow multiple responses from the same user. (It's okay if the user can change their answer before the poll is closed, but they can only have one answer submitted at any given time.)
  • It should have a simple mechanism for creating poll questions on the fly. If the presenter suddenly decides in the middle of the presentation that he wants to do a quick poll on some question, this should basically only require as much time as it takes him to type in the question and answer choices. In particular, this means it must be possible to add polls at will. (Some systems appear to only allow creating a "set" of polls and showing them, but not easily adding new ones in the middle of the presentation.)
  • Ideally, it would display results in real time in the presenter UI. That is, when the presenter clicks "ask question" or whatever, he should see a live display that changes as each individual audience member enters their response (or something close to it, such as updating every few seconds).

Notably, it is not a requirement that the service actually keep track of the poll question. In other words, it's fine if the only data I get is "10 people answered A, 5 answered B, 6 answed C, and 2 answered D" --- without any information about what the question or answer choices were. I'm fine with typing the question on a presentation slide and using the app only for response collection.

I have looked at several possibilities. In my searches, the ones I see mentioned most often are Socrative, Mentimeter and PollEverywhere. The main problem with all of these seems to be that they do not provide, for free, the ability to register audience members so you can track individual responses. I found free solutions in ARSnova and Pingo. The former appears to only allow creation of sets of questions (no quick way to create a question and show it). The latter doesn't appear to provide a way to track individual responses (but most of the documentation is in German so I can't be sure).

The closest thing I've found is ClassQuestion. However, its registration system is somewhat odd (it requires users to provide a "phone number", although this can in fact be any 10-digit number) and some parts of the site are a bit buggy.

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    If you don't mind self-hosting, I can recommend a drupal-based solution drupal.org/project/advpoll which meets all your requirements, except that presenter may need to refresh page to see latest results. Setup is not complicated if all you want to use site for is polls. Presenter can create polls by granting permission to do so. It can keep track of which users voted for which option. Audience will run via browser. if okay, I can enter this solution as an answer. I have used it myself. – Z Z Jan 5 at 11:32
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If you have not already found a solution, and you do not mind self-hosting, there is a Moodle plug-in called Active Quiz that works similar to Socrative. It can probably be used for your purposes:

  • Presenter starts the quiz (working as a poll), and audience connect to it.

  • Depending on settings, Presenter can review responses in real time, re-poll question, etc

  • Can show graphs of answers.

  • Audience will need to have pre-registered on the system though.

The other self-host alternative, is to use a drupal-based solution called Advanced Poll, although the presenter may need to refresh page to see latest results. Presenter can create polls once granted permission to do so. System can keep track of which users voted for which option. Audience will run via browser.

  • Thanks for those suggestions, but I don't think they'll work for me because the self-hosting requires a large and complex framework such as Moodle or Drupal. I'd be interested in self-hosting solutions that are self-contained and don't require installation or maintenance of anything except the audience response system itself. – BrenBarn Jan 31 at 19:13
  • No problem. Unfortunately, if self-hosted on the internet there will always be some maintenance e.g. security updates of modules used. – Z Z Feb 4 at 12:29

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